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Agenda and Speakers Set for ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Summit

Join SIGGRAPH for their day-long July 28 workshop that will educate and inform about Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Leadership (I.D.E.A.L.S).

ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair Tony Baylis has just released the agenda and speakers list for this year’s Diversity and Inclusion Summit, a day-long workshop designed to educate and inform SIGGRAPH 2019 attendees about Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Leadership (I.D.E.A.L.S).

Baylis and his team have organized this year’s ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Summit to showcase how inclusion, diversity, equity, and access encourage leadership to make us a vibrant, innovative, collaborative, and strong organization. The impact of diversity adds significant value to our community, encouraging us to make better decisions, develop better algorithms, and engage with art, media and design. The ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity and Inclusion Summit has a roster of informative and impactful speakers from a range of backgrounds and disciplines that demonstrate how our diversity makes us stronger. The full day event will feature pertinent and captivating discussions that examine the pressing issues and relevant topics facing the computer graphics and interactive techniques community.

This event is open to everyone who has registered for SIGGRAPH 2019 at any registration level. Click here to fill out the EventBrite site form to express you interest in attending, which will assist the event organizers with their planning for room capacity and refreshments.

ACM SIGGRAPH is proud to announce that the Diversity and Inclusion Summit sponsors include Activision, Adobe, Pixar Animation Studios, Epic Games, Snap Inc. and Weta Digital.

The summit program, list of speaker and schedule are as follows:

Summit Date: Sunday, July 28, 8:40 am – 5:30 pm
Location: Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 402AB

Conference Schedule:

Presenter: Mashhuda Glencross, University of Queensland
Time: 8:40 am – 9:00 am

Dr. Mashhuda Glencross is a senior lecturer at the University of Queensland. She has previously lectured at Leeds and Loughborough Universities, worked as a product manager at ARM Ltd., and as a Research Fellow at The University of Manchester. Her work has spanned a diverse range of areas within Graphics and Visualization including; 3D reconstruction/imaging, material acquisition/modelling, visual perception, real-time/massive-model rendering, virtual reality and haptics. She has also been an active entrepreneur, co-founding two startups and endeavors to deliver research with commercial impact. Finally, she serves the ACM SIGGRAPH community as a director at large.

Keynote: The Case for Diversity and the Lens of Intersectionality
Presenter: Melissa V. Abad, VMWare Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab
Time: 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Dr. Abad’s morning keynote will address the benefits of diversifying our workforce and review strategies to create a roadmap that facilitates change within your organization.

Melissa V. Abad, Ph.D., is a sociologist at the Stanford VMWare Women's Leadership Innovation Lab. Her research examines the occupational trajectories of women of color in nonprofit and technology industries. She collaborates with Seeds of Change, a leadership initiative that supports young women in technology. Dr. Abad holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Illinois at Chicago, a M.A. from University of Chicago, and an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University.

Break - 10:00 am - 10:15 am

Panel: Rendering Gender: Identity, Representation, and Sexuality in 3D Design, Interactive Media, and Animation
Moderator: Daniel Pillis
Panelists: Jacob Gaboury, Bonnie Ruberg
Time: 10:15am - 11:15am

The topic of this panel discussion is Rendering Gender: Identity, Representation, and Sexuality in 3D Design, Interactive Media, and Animation. This conversation between speakers and audience members connects rendering, resolution, lighting, and the history of computing hardware with the depiction, development, and representation of the gender spectrum in both animation and interactive media. Bringing together voices from the computer graphics industry and cultural theory, this talk is concerned with how the gender spectrum is represented graphically in video games, how characters in animation challenge or confirm gender stereotypes, and how LGBTQ communities adapt or reconfigure characters and images from animation to speak to their cultural experiences.

Daniel Pillis, Virginia Tech

Artist and technologist Daniel Gene Pillis is a Research Assistant Professor in Immersive Environments at Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. Their team pursues research at the intersection of queer theory, virtual reality, and embedded forms of consciousness in objects and narrative experiences. Diversity and technology, robotics archaeology, and methods for interacting with and understanding the phenomena of time, aging, and history are all current areas of research.

Jacob Gaboury, University of Berkeley

Jacob Gaboury, Ph.D., works in digital media, visual culture, media archaeology, and queer theory. His teaching and research interests include 20th century histories of technology and computation, queer and feminist science and technology studies, computer graphics and digital game studies, and the intersection of contemporary art and technology. His forthcoming book, "Image Objects," offers a material history of early computer graphics in the United States. His work has appeared in popular and academic publications.

Bonnie Ruberg, University of California, Irvine

Bonnie Ruberg, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Their research explores gender and sexuality in digital media and cultures with a focus on queerness and video games. They authored "Video Games Have Always Been Queer" and co-edited "Queer Game Studies." Ruberg is co-founder and co-organizer of the Queerness and Games Conference. They received their Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

Panel: HERstories: Women Leaders in the Digital World
Moderator: A.J. Christensen
Panelists: Donna Cox, Ellen Sandor, Janine Fron,Carolina Cruz-Niera, Maxine Brown, Claudia Hart, Tiffany Holmes, Copper Gilloth, Margaret Dolinsky, Barbara Sykes, Joan Truckenbrod, Dana Plepys, Anne Balsamo
Time: 11:15am - 12:30pm

An intergenerational panel of 12 trailblazing women share their untold challenges, insights and reflections on how they helped scaffold the foundations of the computer graphics industry in the early 1980’s as they continue to innovate and contribute to present day social trends in digital media arts. This unique panel will emphasize collaboration as an invaluable, all-inclusive process for creating dynamic synergies while addressing gender issues faced in high-technology environments that were often populated, managed and directed by men. These stories can serve to enlighten and inspire young professionals, reinvigorate conference veterans, and elucidate the seminal period that transformed games into a digital entertainment phenomenon that gave birth to the Internet, ultimately mobilizing SIGGRAPH as the preeminent computer graphics community that fostered professional networking opportunities for women.

A.J. Christensen, Visualization Programmer, NCSA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

A.J. Christensen is a visualization programmer for the Advanced Visualization Lab at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He specializes in construction of scenes containing overlapping time-evolving 3D supercomputer datasets, building data-driven shaders, and scripting custom solutions to visualization challenges. In addition to his documentary film credits with the AVL, he contributed to the science-inspired renderings of gravitational lensing around a black hole in the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar at Double Negative. A.J. is an active advocate for science communication, LGBT+ issues in technology, and equal access to education.

Donna Cox, Director, NCSA Advanced Visualization Lab, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Donna J. Cox, MFA, Ph.D., is the first Michael Aiken Chair, professor in the School of Art and Design, Director of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory (AVL), Director for Research & Education, and Culture & Society at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. An internationally acclaimed computer artist, designer, writer, and recognized groundbreaker in scientific and data visualization, she will be honored with the ACM SIGGRAPH distinguished lifetime achievement award for digital arts in July 2019.

Ellen Sandor, (art)n

Ellen Sandor is a new media artist and founding director of the collaborative artists’ group, (art)n. She holds an MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her SAIC experiences inspired her passion for photography, sculpture, and video, while intrigued by the spiritual nature of Outsider Art. In the 1980s, Sandor had the vision to integrate these elements with other art forms including computer graphics that resulted in a new medium she called PHSColograms.

Janine Fron, (art)n

Janine Fron is a new media artist, educator and independent game designer. Fron is a member of the Chicago-based (art)n collective, the managing director of the Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection, and a visiting scholar of culture and society, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Carolina Cruz-Niera, Emerging Analytics Center, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Carolina Cruz-Neira is the co-inventor of the CAVE and the original developer of the CAVELibs. She spearheaded the open-source virtual reality (VR) application program interface (API) movement with the development of VR Juggler and is an advocate of best practices on how to build and run VR facilities and applications. She is known for conceiving, developing, and operating large-scale virtual reality research centers. Dr. Cruz has a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Maxine Brown, University of Illinois at Chicago

Maxine Brown is the Director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) and the Software Technologies Research Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her research interests include computer graphics, scientific visualization, collaboration, human-computer interfaces, high-performance computing, and international network infrastructure. Brown has been active in the ACM SIGGRAPH organization and in SIGGRAPH and ACM/IEEE Supercomputing conferences.

Claudia Hart, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Claudia Hart emerged as part of that generation of ‘90s intermedia artists in the “identity art” niche. Her work is about issues of the body, perception, nature collapsing into technology, and then back again. Hart was early into virtual imaging, using 3D animation to make media installations and projections. She is a pioneer in this, taking a feminist position in a world without women when she started, inspired by the French media artists of the ‘60s.

Tiffany Holmes, Maryland Institute, College of Art

Tiffany Holmes is an artist, teacher, and administrator. She is currently the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. Holmes lived in Chicago for eighteen years and worked at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her installation work explores the potential of art and design to promote environmental awareness and sensitivity to shifting ecologies on the planet.

Copper Gilloth, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Copper Frances Giloth is Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Giloth’s projects take the form of drawings, books, animations, videos, websites, and installations. In 1980, she was the first graduate of the MFA program in Electronic Visualization at the University of Illinois Chicago. Much of her earliest work was among the pioneering efforts in the then nascent field of computer art and computer graphics.

Margaret Dolinsky, Indiana University Bloomington

Margaret Dolinsky is an Associate Professor of Digital Art at the School of Fine Arts and Senior Research Scientist with the Pervasive Technology Institute. Dolinsky’s research focuses on how digital imagery provokes shifts in perception and enhances sensory awareness through interactive experiences. She has an MFA from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. from the Center for Advanced Inquiry in the Integrative Arts at Plymouth University, U.K.

Barbara Sykes, Independent Filmmaker

Barbara Sykes became one of Chicago’s pioneer new media artists whose tapes, multi-media installations, and interactive computer and dance performances have received international acclaim. She created an international precedent for Chicago’s new media art. Barbara’s strength as a storyteller is grounded in an aesthetic sophistication of great emotional depth that depicts the underlying sacred nature of the people and events portrayed, blending startling beauty and true immediacy into mythic visual poetry.

Joan Truckenbrod, School of Art Institute of Chicago

Joan Truckenbrod’s artwork mediates between digital technology and the resonance of nature. Her book, "The Paradoxical Object: Video Film Sculpture," presents artists who have inspired her with her recent video sculpture. She has an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is Professor Emeritus at the Art and Technology Department at The School of the Art Institute for 25 years.

Dana Plepys, University of Illinois at Chicago

Dana Plepys began her interest in electronic art and technology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her interest in Generative Systems and photomechanical serigraphy led her to experimental video and computer graphics research at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) where she earned her MFA. Plepys is now an associate director with EVL/UIC responsible for unit operations, research administration, business, and financial affairs.

Anne Balsamo, University of Texas at Dallas

Anne Balsamo research investigates the cultural impact of emerging technologies. This focus informs her practice as a scholar, researcher, new media designer, and entrepreneur. She currently serves as Dean and Full Professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her book, “Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work” (Duke UP, 2011) addresses issues of designing praxis to elaborate how technologies participate in cultural reproduction.

Lunch Break (lunch not provided) - 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Panel: Inclusion of Diverse Talent with Outstanding Abilities
Moderator: Alex Bryant
Panelists: Brianna Blaser, Robert Parke, Jeffrey Shapiro, David Miles, Avi Thomas
Time: 1:30pm - 2:45pm

There is great diversity in the inclusion of individuals with outstanding abilities. There are individuals in our society that are blind, low-vision, deaf, hard of hearing, mobility disabled, or cognitively disabled students in our classrooms, companies and research labs that are a talent resource to our organizations. Come and learn from a group of panelists, allies, and support systems in organizations who are building, expanding and sustaining programs for this demographic of our society.

Alex Bryant, Angelo State University

Emmy-winning Social Media Manager for ACM SIGGRAPH, Alex Bryant is experienced in graphic design, social media and television production. A 2019 Black Enterprise Modern Man of Distinction, he worked for CBS, Dick Clark Productions, and NBCUniversal. He's the media relations director for the Trevor Romain Company in Austin, TX.

Brianna Blaser, DO-IT, University of Washington

Blaser is a Counselor/Coordinator at DO-IT at the University of Washington, where she works to increase the participation of people with disabilities in science and engineering careers through AccessComputing and AccessCSforAll. She counsels students and works with faculty, employers, and other stakeholders to create institutional change. Brianna earned her Ph.D. in Women’s Studies, focused on the participation of women in STEM, at the University of Washington.

Robert Parke, University of Southern California

Rob Parke is a senior lecturer at the University of Southern California with joint appointments in the Information Technology Program in the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Iovine/Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation. Rob is involved in governance at USC and national conference roles that address issues of inclusion and equity for students and faculty from underrepresented groups and with disabilities.

Jeffrey Shapiro, Exceptional Minds

Jeffrey Shapiro, Executive Director of Exceptional Minds, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Exceptional Minds as it enters its next chapter of extraordinary achievements. Exceptional Minds was started by parents of children with autism in 2011, creating the only education center dedicated to preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for meaningful careers in animation and visual effects. Graduates have gone on to work for employers like Marvel Studios.

David Miles, Exceptional Minds Studio, Unicorn Island Productions

David Miles is an animator and VFX artist who works for Exceptional Minds Studio and Unicorn Island Productions. In his spare time he likes to draw, make comics, and play ukulele. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his girlfriend and several cats.

Avi Thomas

Avi Thomas Ph.D. is a member of the LLNL Abilities Champions Employee Resource Group (AC ERG.) His work within the AC ERG has been focused on promoting neuro-diversity awareness and identifying internship opportunities for students with Autism. In 2019, with much thanks to California’s Paid Internship Program (PIP), the number of interns placed annually by the AC ERG has grown from 3 to 22. Outside of the AC ERG, Avi is the National Ignition Facility Diagnostic Alignment System Manager and father to a 10-year-old with severe Autism.

Panel: Diversity, Collaboration, and Building Toward an Inclusive Organization
Moderator: Diana Arellano
Panelists: Lauren McCallum, Makaiya Brown, Jeffrey Shapiro
Time: 2:45pm - 3:50pm

Many organizations are well intentioned in working to build an inclusive and collaborative organization that innovates and creates based on its diverse talent. Come listen to some organizations who are striving to create organizational change needed in today’s workplace realities.

Diana Arellano, Mackevision

Diana Arellano obtained her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Computer Sciences from the University Simon Bolivar and her Ph.D. from the University of the Balearic Islands. Her field of research was Affective Computing, which she combined with Machine Learning. Diana works as Pipeline Team Leader at Mackevision Medien Design in Stuttgart, Germany. Starting her SIGGRAPH journey as a student volunteer, Diana serves as ACM SIGGRAPH External Relations Chair and is a member of ACM SIGGRAPH Diversity & Inclusion Committee.

Lauren McCallum, Mill Film

Lauren McCallum is the Global Managing Director of Mill Film, a Technicolor studio that won an Academy Award for best visual effects for Gladiator. McCallum is known for leading creative talent on features like Blade Runner 2049 and Wonder Woman, as well as her work on the 2017 Oscar-winning The Jungle Book. A specialist in VFX management, McCallum oversees all aspects of production and drives operations and strategy for the studio.

Makaiya Brown, Activision

Makaiya Brown leads diversity and inclusion at Activision Publishing. In her role, Makaiya partners with internal stakeholders to define and activate the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and work on cross-divisional strategy. Makaiya earned her MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, a B.A. in Organizational Studies & Economics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and she studied at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany.

Jeffrey Shapiro, Exceptional Minds

Jeffrey Shapiro, Executive Director of Exceptional Minds, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Exceptional Minds as it enters its next chapter of extraordinary achievements. Exceptional Minds was started by parents of children with autism in 2011, creating the only education center dedicated to preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for meaningful careers in animation and visual effects. Graduates have gone on to work for employers like Marvel Studios.

Break - 3:50pm – 4:00 pm

Presentation: Is AI Biased & Can AI Be Ethical?
Moderator: June Kim
Panelists: De'Aria Bryant, Tianlu Wang
Time: 4:00 pm - 5:15pm

Researchers share the questions and concerns with artificial intelligence technology. You will learn how you might adopt ethical AI practices and mitigate bias in your algorithms.


June Kim leads the International Resources Committee for ACM SIGGRAPH. She teaches 3D animation and Interactive Generative Visualization at the University of New South Wales Art & Design. Her practical research interest lies in making interactive and immersive installation especially with Virtual Reality technologies. June was born in South Korea, grew up in New Zealand, and currently resides in Australia. She is proud to be on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

De'Aria Bryant, Georgia Tech

De’Aira Bryant is a second-year doctoral student in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research areas span the fields of human-robot interaction and artificial intelligence. In the Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab, her studies explore possibilities for social and interactive communication between children and intelligent embodied systems. De’Aira is passionate about the fair and ethical use of AI for social good and the protection of vulnerable populations.

Tianlu Wang, University of Virginia

Tianlu Wang is a third-year Ph.D. student at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. Her research focus lies at the intersection of computer vision and natural language processing. She is also interested in exploring topics concerning fairness and accountability in machine learning applications, e.g., reducing gender bias in visual recognition systems.

Close Session
Presenter: Aruquia Peixoto
Time: 5:15pm - 5:30pm

Dr. Aruquia Peixoto is an Assistant Professor at CEFET/RJ in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is member of the ACM SIGGRAPH International Resources Committee since 2013, member of the SIGGRAPH Asia Symposium on Education Committee in 2016 and 2017, and co-organized the meetings Women in CG in SIGGRAPH and in SIGGRAPH Asia Conferences organized the meeting Girls in STEM in 2016 and 2017.

Source: SIGGRAPH 2019

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.