Foley Scholars Finalists Presentations

Foley Scholars finalists present their research projects: Karthik Seetharama Bhat, Arpit Narechania, Sachin Pendse, and Allie Riggs.

Foley Scholars Lunch Lectures

Thursday, March 7, 2024 
12:00 p.m. Lunch; 12:30 p.m. Talk

TSRB 1st Floor Ballroom
85 Fifth St NW
Atlanta, GA 30308

Livestreams of the talks can be seen here:

2023 PhD Foley Scholar Award Winner

Envisioning Technology-Mediated Futures of Care Work
Karthik Seetharama Bhat 
Human Centered Computing
Advisor: Neha Kumar 

Caregiving is a universal activity that is receiving increasing attention among technologists and researchers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging technologies like conversational AI, augmented and virtual reality, and smart homes have all been described as potentially revolutionary technologies in care work, intended to automate and transform the overall care experience for caregivers and care recipients. However, such promises have yet to translate to successful deployments as these technological innovations come up against socioculturally situated traditions of care work that prioritize human connection and interaction. In this talk, I will share empirical studies looking into how formal care workers (in clinical settings) and informal care workers (in home settings) reconcile technology utilization in care work with sociocultural expectations and norms that dissuade them. I will then discuss possible technology-mediated futures of care work by positing how emerging technologies could best be designed for and integrated into activities of care in ways that unburden care workers while ensuring quality care. 

2023 PhD Foley Scholar Award Finalist

Choropleth Maps: How They Can Trick You and What You Can Do About It
Arpit Narechania
Computer Science
Advisor: Alex Endert 

When creating choropleth maps, mapmakers often bin (or group) quantitative data values into bins (or groups) to help show that certain areas fall within a similar range of values. For instance, a mapmaker may divide counties into high, middle, and low life expectancy. Yet, different binning methods (e.g., natural breaks, quantile) yield different groupings, wherein the same data can be presented differently depending on how it is split into bins. This flexibility can sometimes be (mis)used by journalists to present (false) narratives or by fund managers to (inappropriately) seek additional funding. To mitigate against these dangers, we built a new geospatial visualization tool, Exploropleth. This system lets users upload their own data and interact with the outputs of 18+ established data binning methods, and subsequently compare, customize, and export custom maps. Feedback from cartographers and geographic information system experts highlighted the system’s potential to educate students as well as mapmakers. 

2023 PhD Foley Scholar Award Finalist


Computing for Mental Health Equity: Centering Identity and Power in Technology-Mediated Support
Sachin Pendse
Human Centered Computing
Advisors: Munmun De Choudhury and Neha Kumar 

Online platforms and AI-based tools increasingly play a core role in how people create meaning from experiences of distress and engage with care. For example, large language model chatbots, online support communities, and personalized resources from search engines may all help an individual to contextualize their experiences of distress and find life-saving support. Technology-mediated support is thus often framed as a powerful means to reduce widespread mental health disparities and close care gaps. However, my research has demonstrated that offline inequities are paralleled in online contexts, further making it difficult for marginalized people to access care. The ability to meet diverse needs with technology-mediated support requires a deep understanding of how social inequities and technology design may together impact lived experiences with distress and care. In this talk, I present my work leveraging computational and qualitative approaches to understand these sociotechnical inequities, across diverse geographic contexts and online platforms. Building on this research, I outline my research vision for how we may consider identity and power in mental health intervention and technology design, towards acceptable and effective care for all people.  

2023 PhD Foley Scholar Award Finalist

Designing with Ephemera: Queering Tangible Interaction in Archival Experiences
Allie Riggs
Digital Media
Advisor: Anne Sullivan

Amidst widespread efforts to diminish queer existence from public society, access to stories of queer identities, communities, and histories is vital. Particularly, understanding queer archives provides a lens through which we can critically reflect on what “counts” as recorded knowledge or data and how it holds weight in our conceptions of history. In queer archives scholarship, ephemera—or, material traces not traditionally collected in institutions—can provide powerful, affective links to gaps in the historical record. In this talk, I discuss my work in tangible interaction design with archival ephemera that speak to marginalized, queer histories. I ask how designing with ephemeral materials in tangible embodied experiences can prompt critical reflections on the past, inspiring alternative configurations of bodies, feelings, and histories. Further, I ask how designing with ephemeral materials contributes to queering human computer interaction (Queer HCI), deepening our understandings of tangible embodied interaction, and inspiring alternative interpretations of history.