About Johanna

Dr. Johanna Pirker (Dr. tech. Dipl.Ing. BSc in Software Engineering and Economics and Computer Science from Graz University of Technology) is assistant professor, software engineer, and researcher at the Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science at Graz University of Technology (TUG). She finished her Master’s Thesis during a research visit at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) working on collaborative virtual world environments. In 2017, she finished her doctoral dissertation in computer science on motivational environments under the supervision of Christian Gütl (TUG) and John Belcher (MIT). 

She specialized in games and environments that engage users to learn, train, and work together through motivating tasks. She has long-lasting experience in game design and development, as well as virtual world development and has worked in the video game industry at Electronic Arts

Her research interests include AI, data analysis, immersive environments (VR), games research, gamification strategies, HCI, e-learning, CSE, and IR. She has authored and presented numerous publications in her field and lectured at universitiessuch as Harvard, Berlin Humboldt Universität, or the University of Göttingen.  

Since 2016 is organizing the annual Game Dev Days Graz, the biggest Austrian game developers’ conference. She is an experienced speaker to a broad range of audiences including TedX, GDC, and national TV events.    

Johanna was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of science professionals. In 2019, she was awarded the Women in Tech Award by Futurezone.
  • Futurezone Women in Tech, 2019
  • Styrian Award for Digitalization in Science, 2019
  • Forbes 30 under 30 in Science and Healthcare 2018
  • Award for Diversity Efforts in Teaching, TU Graz, 2017
  • IGDA Women in Games Ambassador, GDC, San Francisco, 2017
  • GOLC Award for Best Visualized Experiment for Maroon, 2017
  • Anita Borg Scholar (by Qualcomm) Scholarship, Grace Hopper Celebration, Tx, Houston, 2016
  • Heidelberg Laureate Forum Scholar, Germany, 2016
  • Global Game Jam Scholarship to attend GDC, San Francisco, 2016
  • OEFG, International Communications Grant, FDG, Pacific Grove, CA, USA, 2015
  • ACM-W Scholarship for CSCW 2015, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 2015
  • Google Grant for JSConf EU 2014 Berlin, Germany, 2014
  • ACM Grant for SIGCSE 2014 New Educators Workshop, Atlanta, US, 2014
  • Named Scholarship of the Faculty of Computer Science, Graz University of Technology, 2012
  • Named Scholarship Marshall Plan (Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation), 2011-2012
  • Best Paper Award IFIP ICEC, 2016
  • Best Paper Award Learning Technology for Education in Cloud, 2016
  • Nominated for Prize for Excellent Teaching, TU Graz, Austria 2016
  • QS Reimagine Education Award (Shortlist), Philadelphia, 2016