Gary Marsden Travel Awards

Our travel awards have been redesigned based on a survey we distributed to SIGCHI members in June 2020. Please read our SIGCHI Medium post for details. Previous iterations, the SIGCHI Student Travel Grants and the Gary Marsden Fund, can still be referenced as we wrap up application cycles. 

The Gary Marsden Travel Awards support undergraduate and graduate students, as well as early-career researchers (i.e., those who are ≤ 5 years post-graduation) in attending HCI conferences, events, and (for early-career researchers) mentorship meetings. We aim to prioritize presenters and first-timers. In addition, we have instituted changes to support those suffering from financial hardship or lacking institutional support. Please also note the following:

  • You must be a SIGCHI member at the time of application in order to be eligible. Read about membership and how to sign up on the SIGCHI website.
  • During pandemic-induced pauses on travel, we invite applicants to apply for covering costs such as conference registrations to make virtual travel more affordable.
  • We will award funds to no more than one presenter per submission. Also, we will award funds to no more than one student per advisor, per submission cycle.
  • You must have an accepted submission at a conference to apply. Acceptances can include papers, posters/extended abstracts (including for workshops/symposia), works in progress, demos, case studies, etc. Exception: If you will need to apply for a visa, you may apply for the travel award before your submission has been accepted.
  • We recommend that you apply for a travel award as soon as the conference submission has been accepted.
  • The committee reviews applications every two months, at the start of every odd-numbered month, starting with January 2021. We will try to offer faster turnaround times (two weeks) for applicants who need to apply for visas but encourage those needing visas to apply for the travel award as soon as they submit their paper (before it is accepted). Note that ACM policy allows for visa letters to be generated upon paper acceptance. Normal turnaround times will be one month. We will also reimburse visa fees, including in scenarios where the visa is denied or travel restrictions (outside your control) arise.
  • SIGCHI is currently exploring securing a travel agent to make travel arrangements and cover expenses for travelers who might like to use it. This should reduce upfront travel costs for those who avail the service. Other costs such as accommodation are generally reimbursed, but if you need further support for upfront costs, please contact us at sigchi-dev-fund@acm.org.
  • For physical travel, we will also give you options to include carbon offsets in your budget. This is to balance the environmental costs of travel from our travel awards.
  • Travel awards information and updates will be conveyed here and on SIGCHI social media. We will also request conferences to post these on their websites.
  • Recipients of other SIGCHI travel support (e.g., SIGCHI awards) can redirect travel support to a student through GMTAs. The student awardee will be determined by the GMTA committee, unless the said recipient intends to identify who they wish to support.

Evaluation: We will evaluate applications along the dimensions of Diversity, Contribution, and Progress. Under Diversity, we will continue to prioritize applicants from the Global South. We will also consider other dimensions that the applicants are comfortable sharing. These might include gender, socioeconomic background, institution, and other factors. An optional open-ended question asks applicants to convey how they view themselves as adding diverse perspectives to the conference and contributing back to their communities post-conference. Under Contribution, we ask applicants what they will be contributing in terms of a written product, talk, etc. Under Progress, relevant for applicants who have previously received SIGCHI travel support, we ask for a statement of how the previous award has aided them in their academic progress since. While applicants can receive a GMTA twice, we will prioritize those who have not received one before.

Apply: You can submit here. The next deadline is on July 9, 2021 at 11:59 PM AoE. Subsequent deadlines will be on September 9, November 9 and every other month thereafter. You must apply before a deadline that occurs more than one month prior to the start of the conference that you plan to attend (we recommend applying as soon as you have your conference acceptance). For transparency, recipients will be announced with each cycle, and any changes in evaluation metrics will be highlighted when relevant. Please email sigchi-4all@acm.org with any fixes/feedback for the travel form.


Gary Marsden, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, was a passionate advocate for people–all people. A pioneer in the field of Information and Computer Technology for Development (ICT4D), he was an inspiration for his students, his colleagues, his community, the profession and, indeed, the world. After getting his doctorate and working for several years in London, he moved to South Africa to work at UCT in 1999. There, his research focused on mobile device interfaces with the goal of targeting inclusive design. He died very suddenly of a heart attack in December, 2013 at the age of 43, days before his birthday. It is in his honor and memory that this award is named. For more information on his rich life, see the memorandum in interactions magazine.

We reaffirm our commitment to fostering equitable participation in SIGCHI venues. We acknowledge that much work remains to be done on addressing underrepresented voices in our community. Like other SIGCHI community support initiatives, our travel awards are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion, locally and globally, from a racial/ethnic perspective as well as attending to different dimensions of marginality, including cultural differences, social roles, sexual orientation and gender identity, structural positions, geographic marginality, physical/psychological marginality, as well as epistemic marginality. Multiple efforts are underway to dedicate more resources along these margins, and to be as inclusive as possible in all that we do.

We are grateful to the following team of volunteers for evaluating the applications: Zhengjie Liu, Anicia Peters, Gerrit van der Veer, Matt Jones, Simone Barbosa, Susan Dray, Astrid Weber, Moira Burke, Frank Bentley, Kori Inkpen and Pooja Chitre.