Mohan Zalake

PhD Candidate, Virtual Agent Researcher, & AR/VR Prototyper

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Gainesville, Florida, USA


Programming - C#, Python, MATLAB

Tools and Technologies - Unity3D, OpenGL, MATLAB, ASP.NET, Django, Docker

UI/UX Tools - Balsamiq, InVision

UI/UX Techniques - Interviews, Focus Groups, Affinity Diagramming, Storyboarding, Wireframing.

Honors and Awards

Intelligent virtual agents conference 2019 - Best Paper Award

Gartner Group Graduate Fellowship 2019

International Student Achievement Award 2019

VR based CPR hackathon project won as Best First-Time Hack (2017)

Autonomous cotton picking robot awarded as Top 10 Innovations in India by ASME ISHOW 2016


I am Mohan Zalake, a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Centered Computing program at the University of Florida. I work in the Virtual Experiences Research Group under the guidance of Dr. Benjamin Lok. My research interest revolves around developing interactive Embodied Conversational Agents (ECAs). ECAs are computer generated human like 3-D characters and converse through natural language-style dialogues with humans. I am particularly interested in developing ECA's that can adapt behavior (both verbal and non-verbal) based on people's characteristics (e.g., personalities) to effectively persuade users in a social conversation.

My research has largely evaluated ECAs with social skills to improve population health. Although large population is aware of conversational interfaces like smart home speakers, very few are familiar with ECAs. My research focuses on identifying and understanding user needs of diverse healthcare population to build adaptive, intuitive, and usable ECA interfaces to positively influence people's health-related behavior. My research has also led to development of ECA-based interfaces that has been used by more than 4000+ users across different health contexts such as improving mental health among college students, supporting suicidal patients, increasing awareness of colon cancer screening among elderly population, and many more. Developing such interfaces involves interdisciplinary collaboration (like doctors, computer scientists, communication scientists), interacting with target population, understanding user needs, building prototypes and testing with target population through out the design process.

I have developed a platform called Virtual Interviewer Platform (VIP) that enables rapid development of web-based ECAs. I have also developed several Unity-based virtual reality experiences which demonstrate applicability of virtual reality in various domains. My interests include virtual agents, virtual reality, machine learning, computer graphics and human-computer interaction.

Work Experience

Research Group Leader/Research Assistant

Virtual Experience Research Group

Conduct research related to virtual reality and virtual agents.

Visiting Academic/Intern

USC Institute for Creative Technologies

Designed a persuasive game to create an immersive experience to change user attitudes towards blood donation by inducing cognitive dissonance.

Simulation Engineer

Center for Safety, Simulation & Advanced Learning Technologies

Developed SDK using Unity3D which allows users to easily create mixed reality medical simulations.

Software Engineer

Green Robot Machinery Pvt. Ltd.

Designed a realtime robotic system to pick cotton from farms.



University of Florida

Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing


University of Florida

Masters in Digital Arts and Sciences


PES Institute of Technology

Bachelors in Electronics and Communication