Curriculum Vitae for  

Kirsten Fiona Cater






Present Appointment:


Department of Computer Science,

University of Bristol,

Merchant Venturers Building,

Bristol, BS8 1UB

United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1179 545155

Fax: +44 (0)117 954 5208




Date of Birth: 23rd June 1978

Place: Reading, Berkshire, UK.

Marital Status: Single

Nationality: British

Home Language: English

Other languages: Spanish & French (basic understanding)

Sex: Female

Research Interests:

My research is concerned with designing elegant solutions for delivering the maximum user experience from devices with limited processing capability by using knowledge of human-computer interaction. For example by understanding the perceptual limitations of users it is possible to avoid wasting computing resources by ascertaining from psychophysical experimentation the information that the user will fail to perceive. This is particularly important when highly complex problems are considered on reduced computational resources, such as those available on modern pervasive computing technology, or when high fidelity results are required in real-time. My doctoral research investigated the extent to which limitations of the Human Visual System (HVS) could be used to save significant computational time when rendering high fidelity scenes. From the research conducted it was established that viewers consistently fail to notice any perceivable difference between a totally high quality rendered image and that of a selectively rendered image, computed in a fraction of the time taken to render the high quality image. By selectively rendered we mean rendering to highest quality only those areas that are classified as important to the HVS, with the rest of the scene rendered at low quality. We were thus able to program a selective renderer based on these findings which saved significant computational time without interfering with the observer’s perception of the computer generated image.

This use of psychophysical experimentation to gain important insights can be used to feed back into the development of technology. Such interdisciplinary research will be of increasing importance in the future as we strive to extract the maximum performance from computer systems by exploiting the knowledge that human beings, with their implicit limitations, are in fact the end users.

Another field that I am currently working on, with Mobile Bristol, is user experience design, as this is a major driver for consumer purchases and differentiates services by engaging the emotional needs and desires of people. Mobile technologies are a fact of everyday life and the ability to access services anytime, anyplace, anywhere is beginning to happen. Consequently research into user experience is needed to understand what the right thing is, at the right time in the right place and thus has enormous significance to the future of computing.

Last year I developed and constructed, in collaboration with two creative writers, an interactive experience called ‘Riot! 1831.’ The application entailed users walking around a public square in Bristol listening to a re-enactment of the riot that happened there in 1831. I was responsible for programming the logic and the structure in which the audio files were played, which tested the limitations of the authoring tool that we have developed to allow users from non-technical backgrounds to create their own location aware applications. The hardware used was an iPAQ (handheld PC), a GPS unit and a set of headphones, and was location based i.e. depending on where the users walked affected what they heard through the headphones. I then supervised a 3 week trial of this experience which was attended by over 700 people. To assess the user’s experience we carried out statistical analysis on the questionnaires, trace file recordings of their movements around the square and the interviews that we performed with the participants. Our key questions focused on the users’ satisfaction with their experience, for example what did they feel about the technology, would they pay money for the experience, what would they have changed to make the experience more compelling, did the technology inhibit or enhance their experience of that place. This research has been so cutting edge that worldwide interest has generated a demand for workshops that discuss our findings and teach the authoring tool we have developed across the globe which I have led. In the past 12 months I have been responsible for two workshops in Canada, one in the Dominican Republic and several in the United Kingdom.

This is just one of the many applications we have enabled with this technology for which I have provided both technical and organisational support which has been integral to the success of these projects. For an overview of the different types of applications please see


Research Experience:

  • December 2003 – Present: Research Associate for Mobile Bristol, part of the DTI funded City and Buildings Centre that was set up to explore the uses of mobile technologies in the City.
  • September 2000 – June 2004: PhD student in the Department of Computer Science, looking at exploiting the limits of human visual system to save time computationally by selectively rendering scenes without the users perceiving any noticeable differences in quality.
  • September 1999 – May 2000: Undergraduate Research project working on the use of parallel threads for improved computation of image processing with neural networks, for an aid for the visually impaired.


Research Grants

  • Awaiting news on a £50K EPSRC Public Understanding Grant
  • £1.5 million from the Department of Trade and Industry to fund the Mobile Bristol research project

·         October 2000 – 2003 EPSRC grant to fund three years full time research for my PhD – Award No. 00301786


Core skills

  • Technically competent - with a thorough understanding of general computer science principles, together with an in-depth knowledge of pervasive experiences, mobile computing, computer graphics and human computer interactions.
  • Effective communicator - with excellent verbal, writing and listening skills.
  • Work effectively, as an individual and in a team, with people at all levels of technical knowledge and backgrounds.
  • Organised - plan my work effectively to ensure that I achieve my objectives.
  • Determined - self-motivated and possess the drive and perseverance to see a job through to completion.
  • Able to work under pressure.
  • Proven track record of taking on responsibility, being able to delegate and being able to deliver on time and within budget.



  • BBC – Consultant on their Festival of Nature Mobile Walk, October 2004
  • Banff New Media Institute, Canada and Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, – Consultant on their Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN) November 2004 – Present


Workshops, Visits & Training which I have led:

  • Workshop for the 6th International Conference on Information Technology for Higher Education and Training, Dominican Republic, July 2005
  • Workshops for the MDCN network in Canada, November 2004 & December 2004
  • UK workshops: Derry City Council, the University of Ulster and North West Institute of Further and Higher Education - Northern Ireland Broadband Flagship Project; Nesta Futurelab - Mudlarking in Deptford project; AWAKIN - Giants Causeway Project, 2AD: The Second International Conference on Appliance Design
  • Valerie Davey visit - 2001-2005 MP for Bristol West
  • Individually trained several artists and creative writers to use the authoring tool we have developed


International Profile (High International Esteem Factor):

  • 2005 – 2006: ACM SIGGRAPH 2006 International Resources Chair
  • 2003 – 2005: Coordinator of the International Resources English Review Service for ACM SIGGRAPH.
  • 2002 – Present: Student Chair on the ACM SIGGRAPH Professional and Student Chapter Committee.
  • 2001 – 2004: Chair of the University of Bristol ACM SIGGRAPH Student Chapter.
  • Course Reviewer for SIGGRAPH 2002, 2003 & 2004, paper reviewer for Eurographics Symposium on Rendering 2003, paper reviewer for Afrigraph 2003.
  • Member of the British Computer Society, ACM and ACM SIGGRAPH.


University of Bristol teaching experience to date:

·         2005 Commenced study for an Advanced Certificate in Education

·         2004 Lecturer on Software Product Engineering COMS20805

·         2004 Lecturer on Software Engineering and Group Project COMSM1401

·         2002-2005 Co-supervised both BSc projects and MSc projects.

·         2002 Taught MSc Lecture on an overview of computer graphics.

·         2000-2002 Taught Computer Graphics lectures, COMS30105, on the Hemi-cube and sphere methods and progressive refinement radiosity.

·         2001-2002 Exam Invigilation

·         2000-2003 Marking of Computer Graphics assignments, COMS30105.

·         2000-2002 Lab supervision of Computer Graphics, COMS30105.

·         2000-2003 Marking Overview of Computing portfolios, COMS11301.

·         2000-2003 Lab supervision of Overview of Computing, COMS11301.

·         1999-2004 UCAS admissions, showing prospective students and parents around the department and demonstrating the motion platform.



·         2000-2004 University of Bristol, Department of Computer Science, PhD

§         Title: Detail to Attention: Exploiting Limits of the Human Visual System for Selective Rendering

·         1996-2000 University of Bristol

§         2000 BSc Computer Science (2:1)

§         Modules: Computer Graphics, Image Processing and Computer Vision, HCI and Multimedia Authoring, Multimedia Processing, Databases, Language Engineering, Concurrency and Communications, Systems Integration, Design Methodologies, Software Engineering, Discrete Maths, Professional Studies for CS, Professional Engineering Studies, Intro. to Computer Architecture, Intro. to Software Engineering & Intro. to Computer Science.

§         Final Year Dissertation for BSc: Image Processing using Neural Networks - Producing an aid for the Visually Impaired

·         1989-1996 The Abbey School, Reading

§         1996 A levels: Biology (B), Physics (D)

§         1996 A/S levels: Computing (A*), Mathematics (B)

§         1994 GCSEs: Computer Studies, Physics, Geography, Mathematics, Biology, English, English Literature, Chemistry, French & Spanish. (All grades A* to C)

§         1993 GCSE: Religious Studies



  1. CATER K., FLEURIOT C., HULL R., AND REID J. 2005 “Location Aware Interactive Applications.” Sketch in ACM SIGGRAPH 2005, Conference Abstracts and Applications.
  2. REID J., HULL R., CATER K., AND FLEURIOT C. 2005 “Magic Moments in Situated Mediascapes.” In Proceedings of the ACM SIGCHI International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology ACE 2005.
  3. MISKELLY C., CATER K., FLEURIOT C., WILLIAMS M., AND WOOD L. 2005 “Locating Story.” In: Proceedings of the fourth Media in Transition conference - the work of stories, MIT, Boston, May 2005.
  4. REID J., GEELHOED E., HULL R., CATER K., AND CLAYTON B. 2005 “Parallel Worlds: Immersion in Location-based Experiences.”  In Proceedings of CHI 2005, ACM, 1733-1736.
  5. REID J., HULL R., CATER K., AND CLAYTON B. 2004 “Riot! 1831: The design of a location based audio drama.” In Proceedings of UK-UbiNet 2004.
  6. HEATHERLY S., HAYWARD R., HILL J., SMIT H., CATER K., AND ROGERS P. Effects of caffeine and caffeine withdrawal on simulated driving performance. In: Journal of Psychopharmacology, Supplement, 18 (3), A29, November 2004.
  7. SUNDSTEDT V., CHALMERS A., AND CATER K. 2004 “Selective Rendering of Task Related Scenes.” In Proceedings of the 1st Symposium on Applied perception in graphics and visualization, ACM, 174.
  8. SUNDSTED V., CHALMERS A., CATER K., AND DEBATTISTA K. 2004 “Top-Down Visual Attention for Efficient Rendering of Task Related Scenes.” In: VMV 2004 - Vision, Modelling and Visualization, Stanford, November 2004.
  9. CATER K. “Detail to Attention: Exploiting Limits of the Human Visual System for Selective Rendering.” PhD Thesis, University of Bristol, October 2004.
  10. Chalmers A., and Cater K. 2004 “Exploiting Human Visual Perception in Visualization.” Chapter in Visualization Handbook Academic Press.
  11. CATER K., CHALMERS A., AND WARD G. 2003 “Detail to Attention: Exploiting Visual Tasks for Selective Rendering” In Proceedings of Eurographics Symposium on Rendering 2003.
  12. Chalmers A., Cater K., and MAFFIOLI D. 2003 “Visual Attention Models for Producing High Fidelity Graphics Efficiently.” In Proceedings of Spring Conference on Computer Graphics 2003, 47-54.
  13. Cater K., and Chalmers A.G. 2003 “Maintaining Perceived Quality For Interactive Tasks”, In IS&T/SPIE Conference on Human Vision and Electronic Imaging VIII, SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5007-21.
  14. CATER K., CHALMERS A., AND DALTON C. 2003 “Varying Rendering Fidelity by Exploiting Human Change Blindness” In Proceedings of GRAPHITE 2003, ACM, 39-46.
  15. Chalmers A., and Cater K. 2002 “Realistic Rendering in Real-Time.” In Proceedings of the 8th International Euro-Par Conference on Parallel Processing, Springer-Verlag 21-28.
  16. Cater K., Chalmers A., and Ledda P. 2002 “Selective Quality Rendering by Exploiting Human Inattentional Blindness: Looking but not Seeing”, In Proceedings of Symposium on Virtual Reality Software and Technology 2002, ACM, 17-24.
  17. CATER K., CHALMERS A., AND DALTON C. 2001 “Change Blindness with varying rendering fidelity: looking but not seeing”, Sketch in ACM SIGGRAPH 2001, Conference Abstracts and Applications.