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Drexel PhD Candidate Houda El Mimouni Selected as SIGCHI Ambassador

April 14, 2017

Every year, SIGCHI (Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction) – the premier international society for professionals, academics and students who are interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction (HCI) – provides 13 student ambassadors the ability to attend the ACM 50 Years of A.M. Turing Award Celebration (June 23 to 27 in San Francisco, CA). Named after Alan Turing, a trailblazer in the field of computer science, the award celebrates major contributors in the computing field.
Of these 13 students is Houda El Mimouni, a PhD candidate at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics (CCI). As a SIGCHI ambassador, El Mimouni will represent the SIGCHI community at the celebration, and will also contribute her reflections on her experience in an article to be published in ACM Interactions magazine. 
“Attending the most prestigious technical award in the field of computer science is not only an honor to me, but is also a tremendously inspiring and enriching opportunity,” El Mimouni said. “As a PhD student, I am looking forwards learning about how computing has evolved and about the future of the field.”
El Mimouni’s primary research interest is in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), specifically in relation to culture and gender. She received an MS in library and information science from Pratt Institute, and a BS degree from the École des sciences de l’information in Morocco, as well as an AS in computer science, a BA in language and pedagogy and a BA in linguistics. In 2011, she received a Fulbright grant which allowed her to come to the US to continue her studies.  
“This [opportunity] will help me orient my research endeavors towards the most valuable direction,” El Mimouni said. “In addition, learning about the remarkable contributions of the Turing Laureates in computing and society will be inspiring to me as a minority member working in the field of HCI.”
She currently works as a research assistant with CCI Associate Professor Jung-Ran Park, PhD on cross-cultural issues in computer-mediated communication. She also works with Jennifer Rode, PhD, a senior lecturer at University College London’s Knowledge Lab, in Rode’s Rainbow Lab, which is committed to teaching girls technology through e-textiles. 
“Being a female student from a developing country, I strive to learn not only through classes but also through attending conferences/professional events and networking with people from the computing society,” she said. “Attending the Turing Celebration will grant me the chance to talk to researchers with the same interest that I have, learn about their research, and find collaborators and internship opportunities.”
Since its inauguration in 1966, the ACM A. M. Turing Award has recognized major contributions of lasting importance in computing. Through the years, it has become the most prestigious technical award in the field, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of computing.” The award is given annually for major contributions of lasting importance to computing, and includes a $1 million prize funded by Google. Since its inception in 1966, the Turing Award has honored the computer scientists and engineers who created the systems and underlying theoretical foundations that have propelled the information technology industry. For more information about the event, please visit ACM’s website.