Sowmya Somanath
ssomanath@faculty.ocadu.ca
Sowmya Somanath
Sowmya Somanath
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Design, Graduate Studies
ssomanath@faculty.ocadu.ca

Area(s) of Expertise

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Interaction Design, Physical Computing, DIY

Overview

I am a Computer Scientist specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Design at OCAD University and lead the Interactive Futures Lab. At OCAD University I am jointly appointed with the Industrial Design and Inclusive Design programs.

I completed my MSc and Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary. I was supervised by Drs. Ehud Sharlin and Mario Costa Sousa, and was part of the uTouch Groupillustrares research group, and the Interactions Lab

My students and I create novel interfaces for autonomous vehicles, cyborgs, robots, and tools for DIY making. I am intrigued by how these novel technologies with physical affordances can impact us socially, culturally, and/or ethically.  

Education

2017-  PhD, Computer Science, University of Calgary.

2012 - MSc, Computer Science, University of Calgary

2010 - B.E., Visvesvaraya Technological University

Professional Experience

01/2018- present Assistant Professor, OCAD University

01/2016-03/2016 HCI Research Intern, Xerox Research Centre India

09/2014-01/2015 HCI Research Intern, SMART Technologies

06/2013-07/2013 Software Engineer, IBM Software Labs

01/2011-11/2017 Research Assistant, University of Calgary

08/2010-10/2010 Software Developer Intern, Virtual Logic System

ACADEMIC SUPERVISION

01/2017- present Karthik Mahadevan (MSc)

01/2018- present Tara Campbell (Graduate Research Associate)

09/2017- present Anthony Tran (Bsc)

09/2017- present Anna Tran (Bsc)

06/2016-08/2016 Tara Shannon (Bsc)

Awards \ Grants

2018 OCAD University GradLink Award. University.

2017 Honorary Teaching Assistantship Award. Course: Tangible & Physical Human Computer Interaction (CPSC 599.88/601-05). Department.

05/2014-11/2017 Alberta Innovates Technology Futures Ph.D. Scholarship. Provincial. $31,500.

2016,2013,2012 University of Calgary Department of Computer Science Research Award. Department. Varied between $500-$8000.

2016 University of Calgary Department of Computer Science Travel Award. Department$1800.

09/2014-01/2015 Mitacs Accelerate Graduate Research Internship Scholarship. Federal. $15,000.

Selected Publications

JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS

Kotsopoulos, D., Flyod, L., Khan, S., Namukasa, I., Somanath, S., Weber, J., & Yiu, C (2017). A Pedagogical Framework for Computational Thinking. Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education.

CONFERENCE PUBLICATIONS

Mahadevan, K., Somanath, S., and Sharlin, E. (2018, April). Communicating Awareness and Intent in Autonomous Vehicle-Pedestrian Interaction. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI’18. (to appear). ACM.

Somanath, S., Morrison, L., Hughes, J., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M.C. (2016, August). Engaging ‘At-Risk’ Students through Maker Culture Activities. In Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction –TEI’16 (pp. 150-158). ACM.

Somanath, S., Rocha, A., Hamdi, H., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2015, September). ReservoirBench: An Interactive Educational Reservoir Engineering
Workbench. In Human-Computer Interaction – INTERACT’15 (pp. 340-348). Springer International Publishing.

Somanath, S., Carpendale, S., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2014, May). Information visualization techniques for exploring oil well trajectories in reservoir models. In Proceedings of the 2014 Graphics Interface Conference – GI’15 (pp. 145-150). Canadian Information Processing Society.

Sultanum, N., Somanath, S., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2011, November). Point it, Split it, Peel it, View it: techniques for interactive reservoir visualization on tabletops. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces – ITS’11 (pp. 192-201). ACM.

WORKSHOP PAPERS

Campbell, T., & Somanath, S. (2018, April). Negotiating Ethical Making between Humans and Machines. In CHI Workshop on Maker Movements, Do-It-Yourself Cultures and Participatory Design. ACM.

Mahadevan, K., Somanath, S., and Sharlin, E. (2018, April). Enabling Pedestrian Communication with Autonomous Vehicles. In CHI Workshop on Interacting with Autonomous Vehicles. ACM.

Mahadevan, K., Somanath, S., and Sharlin, E. (2018, March). Can Interfaces Facilitate Communication in Autonomous Vehicle-Pedestrian Interaction? In Companion Proceedings of the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI Pioneers. ACM/IEEE.

Somanath, S., Hughes, J., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2015, April). The Concept of DIY as an Education Model for Indian Public Schools. In CHI Workshop on Designing Alternative Systems for Local Communities. ACM.

Somanath, S., Hargreaves, I., Tse, E., Takashima, K., & Sharlin, E. (2015, April). Grasping the t-test: Designing an Interactive System to Communicate Statistics. In CHI Workshop on Exploring the Challenges of Making Data Physical. ACM.

EXTENDED ABSTRACTS & POSTERS

Tran, A., Somanath, S., and Sharlin, E. (2018, April). Supernumerary Arms for Gestural Communication. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI Late-Breaking Work. ACM.

Mahadevan, K., Somanath, S., and Sharlin, E. (2018, March). “Fight-or-Flight”: Leveraging Instinctive Human Defensive Behaviors for Safe Human-Robot Interaction. In Companion Proceedings of the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, HRI Late-Breaking Report. ACM/IEEE.

Somanath, S., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2014, August). 'Explorances' or why (some) physical entities help us be more creative. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Applied Perception (pp. 132-132). ACM.

Somanath, S., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M.C. (2013, February). Beyond Actuated Tangibles: Introducing Robots to Interactive Tabletops. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Tangible Embedded and Embodied Interaction.

Somanath, S., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2013, March). Integrating a robot in a tabletop reservoir engineering application. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Human-robot interaction (pp. 229-230). IEEE Press.

Somanath, S., Sultanum, N., Medeiros, J., Brazil, E.V., Carpendale, S., Sharlin, E., Freitas, C.M. & Sousa, M. C. (2012, May). Interactive 3D Modeling and Visualization of Well Configurations and Trajectories in Reservoir Simulation Post-Processing. In Proceedings of the GeoConvention 2012: Vision.

Sultanum, N., Somanath, S., Lapides, P., Miranda-Filho, R., Eastick, R., Sharlin, E., & Sousa, M. C. (2012, May). Interactive Tabletops for Visual Analysis of Reservoir Models. In Proceedings of the GeoConvention 2012: Vision.

TECHNICAL REPORTS

Somanath, S., Oehlberg, L., and Sharlin, E. (2017, September). Making despite Material Constraints with Augmented Reality-Mediated Prototyping. University of Calgary, Technical Report, http://hdl.handle.net/1880/52219.

Somanath, S., Sharlin, E., & Costa Sousa, M. (2012, February). Spidey: a Robotic Tabletop Assistant. University of Calgary, Technical Report 2012-1022-05.

THESIS

Somanath, S. (2017, November). ‘Making’ within Material, Cultural, and Emotional Constraints. PhD Thesis, University of Calgary. 2017.

Somanath, S. (2012, September). Exploring Tabletops as an Interaction Medium in the Context of Reservoir Engineering. MSc Thesis, University of Calgary. 2012.

INVITED PRESENTATIONS

'Making' in HCI. Research talk at Stanford. California, USA. May 2017.

Maker Education Outreach. Research talk at Google, Computer Science Outreach Group. California, USA. May 2017.

 'Making' within Constraints. Research talk at Autodesk Research. Toronto, Canada. January 2017.

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

2018 Workshop Chair, ISS.

2018 Conference Reviewer, CHI.

2018 Conference Reviewer, DIS.

2017 Conference Reviewer, DIS.

2017 Program Committee Member, Late-Breaking Work track at CHI.

2017 Program Committee Member, Work-in-Progress track at TEI 2017.

2016 Conference Reviewer, CHI.

2016 Conference Reviewer, RO-MAN.

2015 Journal Reviewer, International Journal of Computers and Graphics.

2015 Conference Reviewer, HAI.

2013 Conference Reviewer, GI.

2011-2017 Conference Reviewer, TEI.