ISPR News / Call: PRESENCE 2020 program and (free) registration

[The PRESENCE 2020 conference is coming up next Friday, October 23. We’ll be completely online for obvious reasons but we’ll do everything possible to retain the informal, social nature of the in-person PRESENCE conferences. And because it’s online it’ll be completely free. The program for the day-long event is below, and you can register here. If you have any questions or concerns about the conference please e-mail me ( We’re looking forward to “being with” many of you next week!

–Matthew, on behalf of the organizing committee]

18th conference of the International Society for Presence Research (ISPR)
Online + Synchronous
October 23, 2020
Call for Papers in pdf format


Conference theme: Presence during and after the pandemic

The 18th PRESENCE conference will take place as a one-day, single-track online conference.
The 19th PRESENCE conference will take place next fall 2021, hopefully in Orlando, the location originally planned for this year.




Telepresence, often shortened to presence, is a state or perception in which we overlook or misconstrue the role of technology and feel present in the environments and/or connected to the people or things we experience via technology. It’s increasingly relevant to a wide range of media experiences and application areas.

Following a series of 17 successful Presence conference events, PRESENCE 2020 will retain the single-track format and enjoyable social environment of previous conferences while featuring an expanded variety of paper and poster sessions, panel discussions, keynote presentations, hands-on demonstrations of presence applications/services/projects, and informal discussion, networking and fun. Members of both academic and industry communities are welcome.



The term presence has many formal and informal meanings but is used by a growing interdisciplinary scholarly community to refer to experiences in which technology is overlooked or misconstrued in some way during a mediated experience. Long a focus of those who study virtual reality and environments, it’s increasingly relevant to a wide range of media experiences. For example, presence occurs when we get “lost” in the world of a novel, TV show, movie, video game or theme park ride; we’re convinced by the realism of paintings or graphic designs; we treat our cars, computers or other machines as if they have personalities of their own, and we feel like we’re “with” a person we talk to on the phone or in a video conference.

The presence research community has been working to identify causes, characteristics and consequences of diverse presence experiences. The consequences identified so far – including arousal/relaxation, empathy, enjoyment, persuasion and more – make clear the importance and power of presence to improve communication across a wide variety of contexts and applications of interest to scholars and those who create media technologies and content. Presence as a concept and set of phenomena is related to the work being done in nearly every field and business sector from art to zoology, with particularly direct applications in business, education, entertainment and health. The 4000+ posts in ISPR Presence News and thousands more on its predecessor, the presence-l listserv, along with the Presence Bibliography on the ISPR website, illustrate the breadth of presence applications, and the breadth, depth and value of presence scholarship.

The objectives of the conference are to deepen and update the knowledge of those already familiar with presence and introduce new scholars and practitioners to the centrality, pervasiveness, and value of presence phenomena, theory and research.  The overarching goal is to help integrate and increase collaborative scholarship on presence.



All times are Eastern Standard time (EST); convert to your timezone here.

9:30 am EST:

Welcome: Login and Greeting


9:45 am EST: 

Opening Remarks

Speaker: Matthew Lombard (Temple University)


10:00 – 10:50 am EST:

Roles of Attention in Presence

Chair & Moderator: Cheryl Bracken (Cleveland State University)

Integrating the world of presence theory: Illusion, pretence, attending, and pretending
John Waterworth (Umeå University)
Ingvar Tjostheim (Norwegian Computing Center)

Constructing attention to engage social presence: Choosing wisely and managing expectations
Sonja Foss (University of Colorado Denver)
Jeanine Turner (Georgetown University)

The role of task complexity and personality in the effect of co-presence
Merel van den Berg (Sofia University)


11:00 – 11:50 am EST:

Panel: The Critical Role of Presence in Instruction as Covid-19 Forces Learners and Instructors Online

COVID-19 has made technology-mediated learning the new normal. While online instruction can be just as effective as face-to-face instruction, and indeed sometimes can be more effective than face-to-face instruction, this is only possible when technology is used effectively and the communication fosters presence. This panel will review the range of presence research to suggest critical knowledge for instructors and learners to be their most effective selves in the COVID-19 classroom.

Chair & Moderator: Stephanie Kelly (North Carolina A&T State University)

Stephanie Kelly (North Carolina A&T State University)
David Westerman (North Dakota State University)
Suzy Prentiss (The University of Tennessee)
Kyle Varberg (North Dakota State University)
Scott Christen (Tennessee Technological State University)
Michelle Garland (University of South Carolina Upstate)
Ryan Goke (North Dakota State University)


12:00 – 12:45 pm EST:

Discussion: Teaching Presence
Informal conversation: Feel free to bring your lunch, snack and/or drink.

Presence is increasingly taught as a topic within courses and even as the main focus of entire courses. This discussion will begin with a description of a cross-course teaching collaboration in which media producers learn about presence and incorporate it in their design of 360 degree vides and augmented reality projects while media psychology students advise and conduct audience/user research to measure presence and other responses. We’ll then open up an informal discussion of tools and techniques that we use (or would like to use) to teach presence, and the possibilities for compiling our collective knowledge and advice in an online resource and/or future publication.

Chair & Moderators: Laura Zaylea and Matthew Lombard (Temple University)


12:45 – 01:50 pm EST:

Short Presentations & Interactive Breakouts
Informal conversations: Feel free to bring your lunch, snack and/or drink.

Chair & Moderators: Matthew Lombard (Temple University) and Hocheol Yang (Cal Poly)

Telepresence and binge watching: Future research directions
Cheryl Bracken (Cleveland State University)
Bridget Rubenking (University of Central Florida)

Social presence cultivation & loneliness during COVID-19
Matthew Klein (University of Georgia)
Rabindra Ratan (Michigan State University)
Lin Li (Michigan State University)
Chimobi Ucha (Michigan State University)
Justin Duby (Michigan State University)
Kristine Nowak (University of Connecticut)

Teaching death awareness through a sense of presence with digital immersive experiences during a pandemic
Dorote Weyers-Lucci (Sofia University)

“Walking into the dark”: Cognition manipulation and methodological challenges with behavioral measures of physical presence in VR
Eugene Kukshinov (Temple University)
Matthew Lombard (Temple University)

The virtual mandala: Three registers of presence in COVID-era hybrid reality yoga instruction
Joshua Potter (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

The Zoom Uncanny: The production of presence in an online spiritualist circle
Tamar Gordon (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

The body as presence-generating technology
Ellen Esrock (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Exploring media use and presence during a Coronavirus lockdown
Hannah Lucia Bromley (Temple University)
Camryn E. Dodd (Temple University)
Amber L. Douglas (Temple University)
Zachary Wyatt Jaworski (Temple University)
Kaitlyn Ann Kerwin (Temple University)
Cassidy Lorenz (Temple University)
Giana Marinelli (Temple University)
Megan R. Swick (Temple University)
Matthew Lombard (Temple University)
and others


02:00 – 02:50 pm EST:

Different Paths to Presence

Chair & Moderator: Eugene Kukshinov (Temple University)

Presence, flow, and narrative absorption questionnaires: A scoping review
Federico Pianzola (University of Milan Bicocca)

Investigating character identification in virtual reality
Shane Burrell (California State University, San Bernardino)

Immersive medical augmented reality that evokes presence and affect
Hyunji Doh (Temple University)


03:00 – 03:50 pm EST:

Panel: Cultural and Contextual Adaptations of the Presence 5 Framework to Foster Physician Humanism and Meaningful Connections with Patients

Time constraints, technology, and administrative demands often impede the human connection that is central to clinical care. Presence 5, developed to address these barriers, comprises evidence-based practices that promote clinician presence and foster connection. As a framework, Presence 5 has been iteratively adapted to virtual visits, extended to the nurse-caregiver context, evaluated for anti-racist messaging, and modified for resident and medical student education efforts.

Chair & Moderator: Juliana Baratta (Stanford University School of Medicine)

Juliana Baratta (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Raquel Garcia (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Gisselle De Leon Signor (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Cynthia Pérez (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Gabrielle Li (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Megha Shankar (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Marie Haverfield (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Cati Brown-Johnson (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Donna Zulman (Stanford University School of Medicine)

Original Presence 5 
Gabrielle Li

Presence for Racial Justice
Cynthia Pérez

Presence in Nurse-Caregiver Interactions
Juliana Baratta

Presence in Medical Education
Raquel Garcia

Gisselle De Leon Signor


04:00 – 04:50 pm EST:

Virtual Companions

Chair & Moderator: Kun Xu (University of Florida)

Falling in love with robots: The three-stage model of social perception and interaction with computer-generated imagery influencers
Fanjue Liu (University of Florida)

Para-social presence for companionship: A case study on Pokémon Go
Yi-Fan Chen (Farmingdale State College)

Virtual companions: Fostering telepresence between generations during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond
Gabrielle Li (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Gisselle De Leon (Stanford University School of Medicine)
Raquel Garcia (Stanford University School of Medicine)


05:00- 5:15 pm EST: 


Speaker: Matthew Lombard (Temple University)


5:15 – ?? pm EST:

Informal socializing for anyone who has the energy!



The conference will take place online via Zoom. Registration for some or all of the event is free. You can register for the conference here.



The International Society for Presence Research (ISPR) is a non-profit membership organization founded in 2002 to support academic research related to the concept of (tele)presence. ISPR has sponsored 17 successful international conferences (beginning informally in 1998), providing richly social opportunities to share scholarship and applications of the presence concept. The ISPR website ( serves as a resource for those who conduct research, develop theory, design, market, write about, or simply are interested in, the concept and phenomena of presence. ISPR Presence News, available via the ISPR website, provides current news stories, calls for papers and participation, position announcements, and other informative posts every weekday (a total of nearly 4000 posts since 2009).



Matthew Lombard, Temple University (
Cheryl Bracken, Cleveland State University
Isabella Huber, Temple University
Jihyun Kim, University of Central Florida
Eugene Kukshinov, Temple University
SongYi Lee, Temple University
Kun Xu, University of Florida
Hocheol Yang, Temple University

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