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Funding Testimonials: Conference experiences from students funded by SIGAI travel grants.

Attending AAMAS 2017, in San Paulo, was an amazing experience for me, and the SIGAI/IFAAMAS travel grant was fundamental towards my attendance. The conference was an excellent opportunity for discussing my ideas, for receiving feedback, for networking, and for expanding my knowledge. I presented three papers (main track + DC + ALA workshop) and received valuable feedback on my research, which will be very useful in my future works. I was able to get in touch with several other students and researchers, which helped me improve my communication skills and shall result in fruitful collaborations. The talks provided inspiring perspectives on my academic career (Prof. Gal Kaminka, at the DC), on traffic problems (Prof. Ana Bazzan), on active optimisation (Prof. Jeff Schneider), and so on, which play a role in my research. I also attended exciting presentations on the state-of-the-art on learning, game theory and applications, which comprise my main research topics. In short, I can say that AAMAS 2017 was the most productive conference I attended so far. Thank you SIGAI/IFAAMAS for supporting my travel!
-Gabriel de Oliveira Ramos
Through SIGAI Grants I had the opportunity of attending AAMAS for the first time in San Paulo, my hometown. In addition to presenting a full paper for the first time in a major conference, attending AAMAS also enabled me to help in the organization of the 1st Workshop on Transfer in Reinforcement Learning. During the conference, I had the opportunity to discuss my research with many of the influential researchers in my area, and doubtlessly participating in AAMAS will have a huge impact on my research. I thank SIGAI for supporting me for such an awesome opportunity.
-Felipe Leno da Silva

AAMAS 2017 was the first AAMAS conference I attended.

I presented our paper at the main conference and attended the ACAN workshop. Throughout the conference I saw many great and inspiring paper presentations on subjects such as game theory, agent negotiation, virtual agents and social networks. By being able to present our work AAMAS I received valuable feedback, as well as some new ideas. In addition to presenting my paper, I also received the opportunity to present our work during a poster session. Here I met several fellow researchers and received additional useful feedback on our research.

I really enjoyed being able to attend AAMAS. As a first year PhD student it was one of the largest conference I have attended so far.

Being able to see talks on a wide variety of subjects was very inspiring. I would like to thank SIGAI and AAMAS for sponsoring my travel.

-Rens Hoegen
This was my third time attending AAMAS. I truly enjoyed my experience, because for the first time I really felt like a member of the community. I met familiar faces, and made many new connections. I had great conversations about research, both mine and other researchers' and attended a wealth of talks and posters about really interesting projects. I also got great comments, questions and feedback from the community, which was really satisfying. I came out of the conference inspired and energized, and was able to start conversations for possible collaborations. Singapore was a great location despite the distance. I enjoyed running around the city in the mornings, and visiting tourist sites around the city. All in all, it was a very productive conference for me, and the abundance of delicious food really helped spark my imagination.
-Ernesto Nunes
Thanks to a travel grant by SIGAI I attended my third consecutive AAMAS conference where I conducted the first ever AAMAS workshop of Security and Multi-agent Systems (SecMAS). With 13 interesting paper presentations, a very well received invited talk by Prof. Vincent Conitzer, and lively discussions and questions about the state-of-the-art research in security and multi-agent systems, it was a huge success. Due to this, I am looking forward to conducting the workshop again at AAMAS next year. Besides my workshop, I attended various paper presentation sessions over the 3 main conference days, primarily attending and enjoying sessions on game theory and learning. Going to AAMAS and enjoying the talks, meeting fellow researchers and engaging in interesting discussions has always been an amazing experience for me and it always opens up new avenues for research and collaborations, and it was the same this year too. I hope to be back at AAMAS again next year and keep on learning and engaging with the community. Thank you again SIGAI and AAMAS for sponsoring my travel.
-Debarun Kar
The IUI '16 is the most exciting conference I have attended. As a student volunteer, I have cooperated with other students to help organise several events during the conference. Also as an attendee, I had the chance to present my work not only in the paper presentation session, but also in the poster session and the student consortium, which is my favourite part. It was a valuable chance for me to talk about my research with my mentor and receive feedback. The discussions in the panel sessions are also very helpful for preparing interviews after my PhD. I will definitely be willing to attend the future IUI conferences if I get the chance!
-Yuchen Zhao
Attending to IUI2016 conference at Sonoma is my unforgettable experience. As a recipient of student travel grant, I had an opportunity to participate to IUI conference as student volunteer, to be a speaker of my paper ‘Desitra: A Simulator for Teaching Situated Decision Making’, to be a presenter of poster, and to provide demonstration and madness. I have gained a lot of experience. As a student volunteer (SVs), I had a chance to work with other SVs in different types of tasks e.g. registration, quick response, technical support. Even though the conference period is short, we have a chance to discuss in both research and also SVs tasks. We make friends, we keep contact, and we hope to see each other again in this conference in the future, in the other conferences, or even the private visit. As I am the speaker of my research, presenting my work to the very honor and prestigious professionals in this field is a great opportunity to receive questions and feedbacks. The chance of presenting poster, demo, and madness allows me to directly interact with the audiences. The feedbacks and questions I received from being presenter and speaker are very important for my research direction and continuation. And many presented works inspires my research thought. I really have a great time at the conference. I would like thank you SIGAI for giving me student grant to have this very special and valuable opportunity, and this is very useful for me to go back with research idea, and further research collaborations.
-Narumol Vannaprathip
I had a great experience at IUI2016 conference. The participation in Student Volunteers Program gave me the possibility to meet and to work with other student volunteers. As student volunteers we helped in registration, orientation and technical issues. The Student Volunteers Program enabled me to be more involved and to feel part of the conference. In addition, I had an opportunity to present the article "Towards Using Mobile, Head-Worn Displays in Cultural Heritage: User Requirements and a Research Agenda" and receive interesting questions, which can be useful for my further work. Additional great experience was to see presentations of various papers with different topics e.g. user modeling and Intelligent Visualizations. Attending these presentations gave me a possibility to see and to get inspiration in additional fields of research.
-Natalia Vainstein
This is not only my first time attending IUI, but also my first time serving as a student volunteer at a conference. The whole experience is way beyond my imagination. I enjoyed the whole time there in the beautiful Sonoma—not bothered by the rain at all! One thing I liked most about IUI is the small conference atmosphere that everyone felt close to each other. It was such a diverse conference and I was excited finding people doing all kinds of interesting research in this field. Everyday at the conference I got the chance to meet new friends and learnt something new from them--most of us kept in touch after the conference ended. All these are unforgettable experiences and memories that I will treasure for a long time.
-Shun Sun
Attending IUI 2016 after CHI in the last year was quite unusual, given the conference's size, but in a positive way. It was possible to attend all the presentations instead of 1/10th of them at CHI, and easier to befriend people as we meet more often. It was both a lot of fun and very interesting!
-Pavel Samsonov
I had a great experience presenting my work at IUI 2016. I had the opportunity to meet very smart individuals and am looking forward to collaborating with some of them. The demo session went very smoothly and I had the opportunity to demonstrate my work to a lot of people and receive suggestions and critiques. On the volunteering side, I had an ever richer experience since it was much more involved. Not only was it a good professional experience to make contacts with a lot of colleagues, but I also had a great time socializing outside the conference. I am already looking forward to the next IUI.
-Prajwal Paudyal
IUI 2016 is the most interesting conference I've attended since starting my PhD 3 years ago. I was amazed to see the diverse specializations covered in the conference. The research topics were interesting, but there was even more to learn from the people and their research methods. I found them to be friendly and brilliant. Being a student volunteer for the IUI 2016 conference was also a very rewarding experience. At first I worried that the activities may cause me to miss out on the interesting bits of the conference. But it turned out to be fun and flexible – I attended all the sessions I wanted to. The student volunteers were fun to work with. Everything was well-organized, and that made it easier to handle the workload (thanks to Dan and Kylie). One of the best sessions for me is the tutorial by Bart Knijnenburg, where he talked about evaluating intelligent user interfaces. The location for the conference was superb and scenic. It was my first time in the US, and the conference made it a memorable experience. Generally, I gained tremendous exposure attending the IUI 2016 conference. I met interesting and fun people, attended engaging sessions with brilliant researchers, validated my research ideas, and I left the conference inspired to do better research. Thank you for the opportunity
-Khalil Muhammad
I found the IUI conference to be very exciting and relevant for my research. Since the aim of my research is to tightly integrate text analysis techniques with intelligent visual interfaces, attending the IUI conference provided an excellent opportunity for me to learn the recent advances in these areas and to connect with other researchers having similar interests. More importantly, by presenting my long paper and doctoral consortium paper, I was able to get lot of constructive feedback for my research. Finally, I really liked the keynote speeches: they were very exciting, relevant and thought provoking.
-Enamul Hoque
I am Mingkun Gao, a first year PhD student of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My paper was accepted to the IUI 2016 Student Consortium and I was a student volunteer of IUI 2016. In IUI 2016, I did a poster madness presentation, poster presentation and a student consortium oral presentation. These presentation opportunities are really precious and I learn a lot about how to do presentation in public. As a volunteer of the conference, I really enjoy the feeling of serving other people and making the conference running smoothly. During the conference, I attended many interesting talks, which broadened my views in the Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) area. I met with many researchers in HCI and AI fields (including my Student Consortium mentor: Liang Gou) in several social events, such as the conference banquet and poster presentation session. They gave me lots of feedbacks and suggestions to my research. Talking with those experienced researchers really help me to better figure out my research proposal. I like the conference of IUI and IUI 2016 provide me with a good opportunity to know the researcher who shares similar research interest with me. The experience at IUI 2016 is really unforgettable to me.
-Mingkun Gao
My name is Nicholas Davis, and I am a Human­Centered Computing PhD candidate from Georgia Tech. The ACM Intelligent User Interface 2016 conference was an important learning experience for me. I am very grateful to have received a travel grant from SIGAI to help make the trip possible. Being a student volunteer allowed me to spend a significant amount of time with the other students that were volunteering and learn about their research and experiences at a much more in­depth level than just attending the conference. Meeting and talking with the lead organizers, Dan Afergan and Kiley Sobel, was particularly helpful in gaining insight into the process of organizing a conference and coordinating student volunteers. Talking with them and observing how they handled various situations made me feel confident that I could help to organize student volunteers and participate in the overall organizing for future ACM conferences. The event was also an important networking opportunity for me as I am preparing for graduation this year. For example, Dan works at Google and was kind enough to introduce me to his manager, Jeffrey Nichols. They explained the kind of research they are engaged in at Google and we had a discussion about whether I might be interested in joining their team. Additionally, I met Andrew Gordon, who works at the Institute for Creative Technologies and we discussed some potential synergies and collaboration opportunities with our work. The most impactful talk I listened to was by Andrew’s student, Melissa Roemmele. She presented work on using neural networks to classify actions. Interestingly, the work I am involved with at Georgia Tech is accomplishing a very similar task. Our research group has already accessed the publicly available data set they presented at IUI, and we are beginning to apply our algorithms to evaluate the results, which is really exciting. This data set will help propel our research forward, and talking with Andrew and Melissa in person helped me understand the merits and limitations of their approach. In summary, travelling to IUI was extremely productive as well as enjoyable.
-Nicholas Davis

This was my second time in IUI with one paper presentation, but the first time serving as a student volunteer here. In general, I found several very interesting research papers and my paper received interesting comments both during my presentation and afterward. My paper was about recognized drivers based on their driving behaviors. Interestingly, I met with a researcher from Toyota research center in silicon valley and we discussed my paper extensively during one of the social events. That was a very interesting discussion. Besides receiving constructive feedbacks on my research, I also met a group of peer Ph.D. students in this conference, especially those also worked as student volunteers. These fellow students will be the ones that I will meet frequently in the future.

I really appreciate the generosity from the conference and SIGAI to support my travel to IUI. Otherwise, I would have lost the great opportunities to meet such an interesting group of researchers.

-Cheng Zhang
This was my first Doctoral Consortium at AAAI. My presentation on 'Pragmatics Aware Query Reformulation in Heterogeneous Knowledge Graphs'. My mentors were Prof.Yolanda Gil and Prof.Hector Munoz-Avila. I consider both the Doctoral Consortium and the poster session as one of the most well organized sessions. In addition to the event, the opportunity to interact with other students and researchers was a great experience. The organizers of the consortium Prof. David L Roberts and David Aha need a special mention as well. Their handling of the event was perfect right to the minute details. The timings of the presentation, the feedback from the mentors and the students and the dinners added to the overall experience. As takeaways I realized how a research presentation should be structured to a general research audience. My mentors were in touch with me throughout the conference. I was able to meet them after the event as well and thanks to their feedback, I was able to prepare my presentations much better. I would recommend attending the Doctoral Consortium for every student researcher and I also thank SIGAI and AAAI for granting me a travel award.
-Amar Viswanathan
It was great to attend AAAI-DC to meet many students and researchers in AI field. Each student had a 20-minute presentation that was followed with a 20-minute discussion. It was really helpful to hear comments of others to improve my research. We have also presented our research as a poster during the main conference. Therefore, I met many other researchers working in my area. David Aha and David Roberts were great organizers who gave useful feedback during all the discussions. I will tell other PhD students to apply for AAAI-DC next year.
-Nadin Kokciyan
Attending AAMAS in Istanbul was an invaluable experience, and the support received by SIGAI was instrumental in being able to attend this conference. I was able to attend interesting workshops and was very satisfied by the attention that my poster received during the day-long poster session. Being at the conference meant reconnecting with other PhD students and researchers that I had previously met at other venues, and to make new connections. I was lucky to meet several people interested in my work. Moreover, walking around Istanbul during my spare time was great, what a wonderful city!
-Alessandro Panella

Attending AAMAS 2015 was a great experience for me. I had the chance of presenting, getting feedback on my work, getting involved in interesting and productive discussions, and meeting great people.

I gave two talks at the OptMAS workshop, and presented two posters at the main conference. I have collected a lot of valuable feedback which will help improve my research. I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with my DC mentor, Dr. Yokoo, who gave me great suggestions regarding both research directions and my career in general.

I attended several sessions during the conference and found the great majority of the presentations to be of great quality. Some of the presentations were an inspiration for my current and future research.

I would like to thank SIGAI for their generous support, without which I would probably not have been able to attend the conference.

-Ferdinando Fioretto

I am at the end of my fourth year and attending AAMAS 2015 is a very valuable experience for me. It is a time to meet with my friends in the community, present my work, get to know other researchers and their recent work. It is a time for active and productive discussion, leading to new thoughts on different research topics and potential future collaborations.

I gave two oral presentations, one at IDEAS workshop on the first day and the other at OptMAS workshop on the second day, during which I got a lot of helpful feedback. I also presented my work with a poster at the main conference, which allows me to have several extensive discussions with other researchers. I especially would like to thank Professor Noa Agmon for a very kind discussion with me about both future directions of my work and career/life balance for female researchers. I attended different sessions during the conference, and most of the presentations were well-prepared and provided good insights to the audience. I also enjoyed the panel session about "Theory and Practice at AAMAS", which is an interactive discussion between all the panelists and the audience, with valuable points on how we should pick the problem and how to encourage work on applications.

I would like to conclude with thanking SIGAI for their support.

-Fei Fang
I enjoyed my time at AAMAS this year, and found it to be very interesting and relevant to my work. At my poster, I got to meet a number of other students who gave me valuable feedback and a few new ideas. I also gave a demo this year and was delighted to meet other researchers who want to use our system in their work. Overall, it was an enlightening experience and I hope to join the conference again next year.
-Kenneth Bogert

Attending AAMAS in Istanbul not only allowed me to get useful critiques on my research, but I was able to meet people from all around the world that work in my field. While my project is fairly specific, attending talks about game theory and learning approaches contributed greatly to new expansions of my own research.

The conference was especially valuable for a young academic, the fellow attendees were very nice and more than willing to speak about their research. And the panel about industry applications was a refreshing, self-aware activity.

-Jacob Rosen
I really enjoyed my first time attending the ACM Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI). Before the conference, I participated in the doctoral consortium where I presented my interdisciplinary research incorporating intelligent interfaces with the creation of auditory displays. At the consortium, I received great advice from knowledgeable researchers in the field on how to present my work to this community and suggestions for areas I could explore in the future. Since the conference was single track, I was able to attend every presentation and learn the current state-of-the-art research at the intersection of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction. I also presented my work during the poster session, which gave me a chance to interact directly with many of the other conference attendees. Everyone was very welcoming to my interdisciplinary work and I look forward to attending this conference in the future!
-KatieAnna E. Wolf
IUI is directed towards a unique goal of bringing the HCI and AI fields together. I find this idea exciting and insightful. As a first time attendee, I think IUI is the perfect venue to put forward this type of research efforts. In the conference, I got introduced with exciting new ideas and met great researchers of the field. Overall, the conference was a great experience for me. I believe being a part of the IUI community will help me a lot in my research and the career. I'll try to attend IUI 2016 as well.
-Md. Iftekhar Tanveer
I presented a paper on “User-directed Non-disruptive Topic Model Update for Effective Exploration of Dynamic Content”. Our paper won the best paper honorable mention award. I had a great time at IUI 2015.
-Yi Yang
I had an excellent time at IUI 2015. The first day I went to a workshop (SmartObjects) where I met several people with whom I conversed throughout the conference and afterwards each day. My presentation was not until the last day of the conference, so up to that point I only had to sit in on sessions. There were several presentations from researchers whose work I have often read, so it was an excellent experience to be able to see them present in person and be able to speak to them. In particular, Rosalind Picard, Ehsan Hoque, and Peter Robinson are all leaders in affective computing and computer vision research so it was a pleasure to meet them. My presentation on Wednesday was a good experience as well, somewhat intimidating because of the high-profile audience, but I am glad to have done it.
-Nigel Bosch
This is for the first time I attended the IUI conference. I presented my research in the graduate student symposium. The feedback I received from the symposium were very insightful. I would specially like to take the opportunity here to thank my mentor Dr. Henry Lieberman for taking time to discuss the details of my research work presented in the consortium. I also enjoyed the poster and demo session very much. The demos were attractive. Specially the demo of the artificial hair was interesting. I also found the keynote speeches very informative. I would specially like to mention about the talk given by Prof. Dan Weld as it was very close to my own research work. Overall it was an exciting experience. Hope to join the conference in the next year as well.
-Sanorita Dey
The travel grant partially supported my travel to the ACM Interactional Conference on Intelligent User Interface (IUI) 2015 where I presented my paper and participated the student consortium. It was my first attendance at the IUI and, throughout the conference, I was able to expose myself to various research topics and colleagues that I wasn't familiar with. I enjoyed friendly and nurturing atmosphere of the student consortium. I'm assured that this experience will benefit my future research. I greatly appreciate the support from the SIGAI for and hope other students can be supported in their future attendance at academic conferences like the IUI.
-Hee Tae Jung

Not only was I very excited to go to iUI 2015, the first conference I have ever attended, but also to present my paper "Evaluating Subjective Accuracy in Time Series Pattern-Matching Using Human-Annotated Rankings". At the conference, I met and talked to many other presenters and researchers from all over the world, which was fantastic. Also, I really liked the talks! I thought most of the presentations were great and a great source of inspiration. The people who organized this event did an excellent job. The hotel, conference room and catering was stunning.

I am really glad I was part of this year's iUI and very grateful for the grant I received. Since I am currently a Master's student, I would have had to pay for the trip to Atlanta myself. Thank you so much!

-Philipp Eichmann
The IUI conference was an enlightening experience. The Student Consortium was very useful and I learned from the mentors' and other students' feedback. In overall it was a great experience where I saw very interesting works and projects and made new contacts for future cooperation.
-David Costa
It was my first time at ACM IUI and I had a great experience. The conference venue was very nice, very organized and with an excellent infrastructure. The student consortium was one of the best I have attended so far. I received many helpful feedbacks and new ideas. One of the students in the group was writing down all comments and suggestion for each session and given them to the presenter afterward. The group was very supportive and collaborative. Many of us stayed together for the entire conference. All keynotes were very inspiring but the keynote from Prof. Rosalind Picard was very helpful for my research; she summed up ten years of her work. The interaction with other researchers and conference events gave me new perspectives on future directions. All presented papers were of excellent quality. I will work hard to publish a full paper for IUI 2016.
-Marcio Cunha
Attending the student consortium at IUI 2015 was a great and very insightful experience for me. I got to present my Ph.D. topic to other researchers from different areas and had some great discussions with them as well as other conference attendees. I especially enjoyed the net working part of the conference which gave me a lot of new insights and inspiration about the design of intelligent user interfaces. I'll definitelly try to attend IUI 2016!
-Kathrin Pollmann
Being the first time attendee, I found the IUI conference to be very exciting and relevant. Since the aim of my research is to tightly integrate text analysis techniques with intelligent visual interfaces, attending the IUI conference provided an excellent opportunity for me to learn the recent advances in these areas and to connect with other researchers having similar interests. More importantly, by presenting my long paper and doctoral consortium paper, I was able to get lot of constructive feedback for my research. Finally, I really liked the idea of having keynote speech on every morning: all of them were very exciting, relevant and thought provoking.
-Enamul Hoque Prince
This is my second time attending the IUI conference and my first time presenting my research at the student consortium. I got a lot of feedback during and after the consortium, most of which did inspire me with invaluable insights. According to what we talked, I should probably think more about how to motivate my research in a more concrete way. I especially want to thank Prof. Gajos Krzysztof, who spent almost one and a half hours talking with me about my current research, with his strictness and wisdom, helping me to figure out the problems I should handle and the future work I may take. I have to say that I love this community and would like to have a chance to join again.
-Huaming Rao
The AAAI Doctoral Consortium put me in touch with several other PhD students, with whom I enjoyed conversations both on research and academia in general. From observing the others' presentations, I got a better idea on how to properly present my research to people of different research backgrounds. Furthermore, we were taught (through trial-and-error) how to pitch a new research idea in a succinct, well-motivated way, which is vital in the academic world. In general, I felt the consortium was well organized; it was not just a long sequence of presentations, but it included a small workshop on pitching a research idea, and a panel session on academic careers. Kudos to the organizers.
-Tim Brys
I had a great time at the AAAI DC. The expert panel provided a lot of insightful career advice, and my fellow participants were a much more diverse group of student researchers than I have met at past conferences. It was really interesting to see so many different areas of AI research at once, and to talk in depth with the other students. As well as learning a lot, the DC was a great way to make some new friends in other areas of AI, and to get detailed, insightful, feedback on my research topic from many different people.
-John Doucette
AAAI DC provided me with an amazing opportunity to get community feedback on my research. During the DC, I received valuable suggestions and insightful advice from my mentor as well as other DC attendees. I particularly enjoyed the discussion about my work with my mentor after the talk. In addition, interacting with fellow researchers and students throughout the DC allowed me to widen my academic network.
-Taraneh Khazaei

My name is Ran Taig, I'm a 3rd year PhD. Student in the field of automated building from Ben Gurion University in Israel.

My research focuses on utilizing compilation methods for probabilistic planning, As part of this research, I had a paper accepted for the AAAI'14 conference in Quebec. I was very happy to get accepted to SIGAI\AAAI doctoral consortium which took place before the main conference. As you may know, for an Israeli student, flying to participate a scientific event in the other side of the world is a very expensive task. SIGAI's generous support made it possible for me and for that I'm very grateful. The possibility to participate an event in the size and importance of AAAI is nothing less than crucial for a student in my stage, The experience of presenting my paper in front of most important people in the community and the feedback from them is very valuable and helped me a lot in deciding how to complete my thesis.

The participation in the DC was a big extra value, first of all the event was unique and I had great fun exposing myself and get exposed to people in the same stage of research from all around the world. I take great benefits from this event, mainly the help for planning my professional future. I had the chance to get feedback and ask questions very experienced people form all stages of academic careers and by that, I gathered many meaningful information to build and understand what should be my next stages after the PhD,

I conclude with thanking SIGAI again for their support and with a very warm recommendation of this event to any future students.

-Ran Taig