SIGCHI Development Fund Awards (July & October 2020)

Neha Kumar
Published in
8 min readDec 27, 2020


The SIGCHI Development Fund was introduced by the SIGCHI Executive Committee (EC) some years ago to support our globally dispersed community members in organizing events and initiatives to develop HCI voices and conversations less heard. From our call for proposals last year:

“The SIGCHI Development Fund (SDF) is a resource that provides support for the global SIGCHI community to invest in communication, innovation, and expansion around HCI. All SIGCHI members are eligible to apply for funding from the SDF. These proposals for funding must align with one or more of the SIGCHI EC’s Strategic Initiatives.”

In this post, I list our SDF award recipients from the July and October SDF cycles (2020). But first, some background. After joining the EC in June 2019 as VP at Large, one of my first responsibilities was the management of this fund. I soon learned that utilizing this resource was best done with a team of volunteers, for the considerable labor, attention to detail, careful book-keeping, and non-stop decision-making it entailed. This led to the best decision I’ve made on the EC — recruiting via an open call the SDF Committee, alongside an ever-supportive Loren Terveen.

This group of committed volunteers has included Naveena Karusala, Vikram Kamath, Adriana Vivacqua, and Luigi De Russis, now for almost one year. At the time the SDF Committee was formed, Naveena was located in the U.S., Vikram in Rwanda, Adriana in Brazil, and Luigi in Italy, and we had quite a range of time zones (Vikram is now in the U.S.). We also enlisted a few active and experienced SIGCHI volunteers to participate in occasional brainstorming/advising sessions on how we could be more globally inclusive and equitable. This advisory group consisted of Susan Dray in the U.S., Sane Gaytan in Mexico, Kaveh Bazargan in Iran, Pushpendra Singh in India, and Zhengjie Liu in China. In February-March 2020, as the world began to collapse under the weight of the pandemic, we invested several hours into meeting and discussing together how we could better expand and strengthen SIGCHI’s ties as a global entity. The SDF is one of the channels we use.

The SDF has operated on quarterly deadlines since the start of the current EC’s term. However, when event cancellations began to unfold in quick succession back in March, it was decided at the SIGCHI EC level to skip the April SDF cycle, not knowing how hard a hit our budget would take. We (the SDF committee) used this down time to take stock of previously supported initiatives, and surveyed them in an effort to learn what practices had worked well and which ones needed revising. The first thing we did was to survey different platforms that could support improved book-keeping, and were also accessible, GDPR-compliant, and globally available. We signed on a contract with Submittable, which the EC now uses for multiple projects that previously used other platforms such as SM Apply or just email. Naveena did much of this ground work and is now the EC’s Submittable expert.

Since physical travel was now a challenge, we decided to change our July call to a call for virtual events and initiatives instead. In line with other budget cuts, we set a USD 5K cap on awards. We chose also to “strongly encourage proposals that align with SIGCHI’s commitment towards addressing racial and other systemic injustices” and left this call for proposals unchanged for our October cycle.

All proposals received were discussed and voted on unanimously by our committee. In general, a proposal was awarded as long as it sought to fulfill three criteria — the event/initiative was intended to support virtual participation (creativity was a bonus), described how it would promote the EC’s strategic initiatives (a focus on underrepresented groups was a plus), and had a well-defined budget. In cases where the budget was unclear, we reached out to applicants to seek clarifications. Across the July and October cycles, we awarded 10 proposals and list these below (with descriptions provided by the organizers). Projects 1-5 focused on developing HCI capacity at the regional level, 6–8 supported a range of collaborative activities, while 9–10 targeted the broadening of participation from the Global South (and more generally).

1. Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems

The Brazilian Symposium on Human Factors in Computing Systems (IHC) is the main scientific event in the field of HCI in Brazil. IHC 2020 will be performed online and use SIGCHI funding to structure the online environment where participants will be able to interact and socialize with each other. This will also include personalized coffee break kits that will be sent to registered participants via postal services to provide greater socialization. The team: Maria Lúcia Bento Villela (Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri, Brazil), Caroline Queiroz Santos (Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri, Brazil), Isabela Gasparini (Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Brazil), and Tayana Uchôa Conte (Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Brazil).

2. HCI and Design in South Asia

As part of a broader initiative, the South Asian HCI community hopes to build an online community to share relevant pedagogical content, host virtual meetings, and engage in collaborative projects. They plan to use this award to create high-quality lectures and use relevant online tools. They will start with the virtual IndiaHCI conference and continue online sessions going forward. The team includes: Pranjal Jain (Srishti SIGCHI Chapter, India), Sayan Sarcar (University of Tsukuba, Japan and HCI Professional Association of India), Rucha Tulaskar (Continuum, India, Mumbai SIGCHI Chapter, and HCI Professional Association of India), Nova Ahmed (North South University, Bangladesh and Dhaka ACM SIGCHI Chapter), Suleman Shahid (Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan), and Rahat Jahangir Rony (North South University, Bangladesh and Dhaka ACM SIGCHI Chapter).

3. SydCHI Research Day

The Sydney ACM SIGCHI Local Chapter, “SydCHI”, was started in June 2020, and aims to promote local research collaboration and activities in the Sydney region. To drive the momentum of this newly formed chapter during COVID, they planned to organize a virtual HCI workshop — SydCHI Research Day. The main goals were to (1) understand the community and its strengths, (2) formulate collaborative research agendas, and (3) identify partners and expand the community. The team included: Wafa Johal (University of New South Wales, Australia), Anusha Withana (University of Sydney, Australia), Shlomo Berkovsky (Macquarie University, Australia), Doménique van Gennip (University of New South Wales, Australia), Kiran Ijaz (Macquarie University, Australia), and Soojeong Yoo (University of Sydney, Australia).

4. Brazilian Symposium on Collaborative Systems (SBSC)

The proposed workshop is a standalone event promoted by members of the Brazilian Collaborative Systems and HCI communities. It aims to strengthen the Brazilian/Latin American HCI research community studying online collaboration. The team includes: Juliana Baptista dos Santos França (Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Vaninha Vieira dos Santos (Federal University of Bahia, Brazil), Letícia Santos Machado (Federal University of Pará, Brazil), and Luciano Heitor Gallegos Marin (Universidade de Fortaleza, Brazil).

5. Knowledge, Cultural, and Collaborative Learning with Indigenous Communities in Timor Leste

This project offers an interdisciplinary platform to attract local researchers, postgraduate students, industry partners and academicians to uncover and explore the field of HCI , learn about design and user experience methodologies employed in HCI, and contextualize them to TL. The project will also enable interactions between local researchers and prominent HCI researchers for knowledge exchange. It will include a series of workshops and webinars to be attended by local Indigenous researchers, students and prominent regional and international HCI community members for cross-cultural learning. The team: Eiad Yafi (Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Pedro Barreto Ximenes (Institute of Business, Timor Leste), Reem Talhouk (Northumbria University, UK), Tariq Zaman (University College of Science and Technology, Malaysia), and Dhaval Vyas (University of Queensland, Australia).

6. HCI Teaching in-a-Pandemic

This event aims to explore how we can create engaging hands-on HCI courses for a diverse student population while maintaining social distance. It will include HCI groups from four countries — Panama, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S. The plan is to not only create a platform to discuss novel HCI teaching approaches but also to explore formats that allow for social distancing. Sessions will be organized as “walking seminars” — participants will be connected via voice or video calls and participate while on a walk outdoors. The team: Luke Haliburton (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany), Jasmin Niess (University of Bremen, Germany), Pawel Wozniak (Utrecht University, Netherlands), Michael Stewart (James Madison University, USA), Elba del Carmen Valderrama Bahamóndez (Technological University of Panama, Panama), and Albrecht Schmidt (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany).

7. Co-designing a Dataset with Black and Latinx Deaf/Hearing Communities

This project will bring together Black and Latinx adults from deaf and hearing communities to co-design and label a dataset of significant environmental sounds, and methodologies for populating that dataset. Some Deaf/HoH adults have expertise from a lifetime of living with little or no environmental sound. Within Deaf/HoH communities, there is a great deal of collective knowledge about environmental notifications that are significant for enhancing communication and reducing safety risks. Hearing adults may also have the knowledge to contribute, such as the beeping alarm emitted by a refrigerator with its door left ajar. The funds will be used for technology to collect, process, classify, and label audio from various work and non-work scenarios. Led by Donna Auguste (Auguste Research Group, USA).

8. Drawing Futures — Speculations in SIGCHI

The act of drawing plays a central role as a vehicle for present and future thinking. Thus a series of 5 hands-on virtual events will be held to use drawing as a rich, diverse, inventive, and critical tool to speculate SIGCHI in the year 2025. They will bring together researchers and practitioners that represent the international/diverse HCI community to speculate 2025 that considers research and practice bridge, interdisciplinarity, underrepresented groups, new frontiers in HCI, and community building and maintenance. A series of drawings and summarized discussions presented as a digital comic zine will be created to be used by SIGCHI as a boundary object to support the further development of SIGCHI initiatives. Led by Makayla Lewis (Birmingham City University, UK).

9. UIST 2020 Virtual Conference

UIST 2020 was awarded a grant to help create an engaging and interactive experience for its participants. They sought to broaden UIST attendee participation by waiving registration fees for 30 student participants from the Global South. Additionally, the funds were used to adapt a web gallery for the online program. The gallery will be made available as open source to other SIGCHI conferences. The team included: David Lindlbauer (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Thomas Langerak (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), Nadya Peek (University of Washington, USA), Shamsi Iqbal (Microsoft Research, USA), Karon MacLean (University of British Columbia, Canada), Michelle Annette (MishMashMakers, Canada), Shiri Azenkot (Cornell Tech, USA), and Nur Al Hamdan (RWTH Aachen, Germany).

10. CSCW 2020 Doctoral Consortium

The CSCW 2020 Doctoral Consortium (DC) wished to support students selected for the DC from outside of the U.S. by covering their registration for the conference. The team included key organizers of the event/conference: Jenn Thom (Spotify, USA), Jessica Vitak (University of Maryland, USA), Matthew Bietz (University of California, Irvine, USA), and Andrea Wiggins (University of Nebraska Lincoln, USA).

A special shout-out to Vikram for doing the hard work of compiling this list as well as being our point person for working with Sade Rodriguez at the ACM to ensure smooth disbursement of funds to all recipients.

Before concluding, I invite you to submit your proposals to the SIGCHI Development Fund. We have decided to do away with quarterly deadlines, and will be processing submissions as they are received. Proposals can be submitted by SIGCHI chapters (to be approved by VP Chapters Eunice Sari) or individuals at institutions that are eligible to receive funds from the ACM. Changes to accommodate physical travel will be announced; for now, we are only inviting virtual/hybrid events and initiatives. For a proposal to have the maximum likelihood of receiving an award, we ask that it clearly articulate how the event/initiative concerned promotes SIGCHI’s strategic initiatives, supports virtual participation, and helps augment SIGCHI’s global identity and presence. And email us any questions.

Neha Kumar
SIGCHI VP at Large
On behalf of the SIGCHI Development Fund Committee

Coins of all types.



Neha Kumar

Associate Prof at Georgia Tech; SIGCHI President