By Leslie Coney, Jay Cunnigham, and Akeiylah DeWitt
Research Exposure and Networking
While many of us have attended conferences before, CHI is the first large conference that we have attended. Akeiylah had a positive experience meeting other Black students who work in the CHI community, but primarily did not have many meaningful engagements with health researchers at CHI. Akeiylah did take note of the names of several different researchers whose work she will continue to follow, but beyond that, feels overwhelmed to start any research collaborations with people she interacted with at CHI.
Unfortunately, Leslie had a negative experience at CHI. Specifically, attending CHI reminded Leslie about the lack of representation of marginalized population’s experiences in research at CHI. It seems that researchers at CHI are still not interested in partnering with marginalized communities and representing their voices in research. CHIMe was not organized this year as well, meaning that many underrepresented students at CHI missed out on an opportunity to find community. Lastly, Leslie was a student volunteer at CHI this year, and experienced multiple conflicts with other students taking advantage of their authority and creating an unsafe space to enjoy the conference. She is looking forward to conferences that have a more specific focus, where she can be free to engage in critical conversations with other engineering researchers.
Jay had a great experience at CHI! He had an amazing time connecting with researchers in AI, accountability and fairness. Jay organized multiple meetings with researchers from other institutions, and has built lasting relationships that will support his research and career. Jay is happy that he got to put faces to the community that he speaks to in his research.
Conference City Experience
New Orleans has a completely different culture from Seattle! Attending CHI during a warm weather season was the vacation we didn’t know we needed. NOLA is a lively city, and experiencing the joy and excitement of the city in the evenings gave us all new energy to live on when we came back home. Akeiylah especially appreciated the live music in the city and the opportunity to connect with people from her cohort that she hasn’t seen in years. She has family there and hopes she can visit again soon. Leslie had this to say about NOLA:
“Beautiful city, beautiful people, beautiful food, beautiful music, beautiful everything”.