In recognition of Gary Marsden’s contributions and inspiration in HCI4D and support of HCI in the developing world, ACM SIGCHI established the Gary Marsden Student Development Fund in 2015. This fund is especially intended for sponsoring postgraduate students (Master or PhD degree) from and currently based in developing countries to attend SIGCHI (co)sponsored conferences as well as other HCI relevant conferences. In the last one year, 21 students were awarded by the fund.


In recognition of Gary Marsden’s contributions and inspiration in HCI4D, ACM SIGCHI establishes Gary Marsden Student Development Fund. The purpose is to support growth of HCI in developing worlds by sponsoring postgraduate students from and currently based in developing countries to attend HCI relevant conferences.

Who decides on who gets this award

A special committee is set up under SIGCHI EC that is consisting of 5 people including a chair and a vice-chair of the committee. The chair is appointed by the EC.  Other committee members including the vice-chair are then proposed by the committee chair for approval by the EC. The committee will serve the same term as the EC.

Decision Process

The reviewing and awarding process runs every three months in a year in four cycles in February, May, August and November.  Each application is reviewed based on the qualification of the student, the contribution he/she made at the conference as well as the relevance and quality of the conference in terms of its helpfulness to the student’s development in HCI. The total fund awarded each cycle should be within the fund quota for each cycle, which is one fourth of the annual fund quota. The fund unused for a cycle could be used for the following cycles. The number of award recipients and the maximum fund for each recipient are decided by the fund committee based on the application review. The reviewing and awarding process is as follows:

  • The chair receives and collects the applications.
  • The chair circulates the qualified applications to all committee members.
  • The committee members review the applications and send their votes to the chair.
  • The chair puts all votes together and gets the results by the number of votes the applicants have got. The chair circulates the results and the votes to all the members for confirmation.
  • For every applicant that the committee would like to support, the conference organizers will be asked to confirm that the applicant has an active role in the conference (accepted contribution; accepted as Doctoral Consortium student; or accepted as student volunteer etc.)
  • The results are informed to all the applicants (including successful and failed) and the conference organizers for the successful applicants.
  • The process is mainly conducted by email communications.

The application submission deadlines are the last day of February, May, August and November. The reviewing results are sent to the applicants in three weeks after the application deadline.

Who can apply

Any postgraduate students (Master or PhD degree) from and currently based in developing countries, who have
received an invitation to attend from the chair of a HCI relevant conference, can apply for the fund. A conference may provide such an invitation based on accepted contributions, acceptance as a doctoral consortium student, or volunteering of any kind (such as student volunteer) for the conference. Here the developing countries are as defined as the countries not listed as advanced economies by  IMF-World Economic Outlook April 2015.

How to apply

The applicant needs to submit the application to the committee chair at
with the following six documents in PDF format:

    1. a letter of statement by the applicant explaining the nature of the participation including the role the applicant will take in the conference as well as why and how it is helpful for his/her career in HCI.
    2. the email message from the conference organizers showing acceptance of the applicant’s participation in the form of publication, doctoral consortium submission, or as a student volunteer etc.
    3. the URL of the conference website and the contact details of the conference chair.
    4. a copy of the Student ID card of the applicant.
    5. a supporting letter from a faculty member at the university where the applicant currently has the student
    6. a statement of the requested funding amount and a brief justification of the funding needs.

What can be covered

Subsistence of not more than $3,000 USD in the case of SIGCHI (co)sponsored conferences and $2500 USD in the case of other types of conferences, including travel (economy class flight tickets, ground transportation), accommodation (student housing if available), registration at the ACM or SIGCHI student member rate (only in the case of SIGCHI (co)sponsored conferences) and meals during the conference can be covered by reimbursement. A maximum fund for each award recipient is decided by the fund committee based on the application review and the available fund quota.

How to be reimbursed

All the subsistence up to the maximum fund for the award recipient set by the committee is reimbursed by receipts
and following ACM processes for reimbursement.

About Gary Marsden

Gary Marsden, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, was a passionate advocate for people – all people.  He pioneered the field of Information and Computer Technology for Development (ICT4D) and, in his own wonderfully unpretentious way, he changed the world in positive ways for his students, his colleagues, his community, the profession and, indeed, the world.  A self-described geek, he created technology WITH people rather than just for them, so that the result would actually meet their needs so that it would empower them. After getting his doctorate and working for several years in London, he moved to South Africa to teach at UCT in 1999. There, his research focused on mobile device interfaces because mobiles are ubiquitous in most of the “developing” world, and he became world-renowned for his work. He died very suddenly of a heart attack in December, 2013 at the age of 43, just days before his birthday. It is in his honor and memory that this award is named for him. For more information on his rich life, see

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