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Ph.D. Student Ashwin Shashidharan Wins Student Research Competition at International Conference

A photo of Ashwin Shashidharan standing with his advisors, Ross Meentemeyer and Raju Vatsavai, and holding an award at the ACM SIGSPATIAL Conference
Ashwin (center) and his two advisors, Ross Meentemeyer and Raju Vatsavai, at ACM SIGSPATIAL

Center Ph.D. student Ashwin Shashidharan (Dept. of Computer Science) won first place in the Student Research Competition at last week’s 24th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems in San Francisco, CA. His presentation––“tFUTURES: Computational Steering for Geosimulations”––took the top prize in the graduate student category after three rounds of judging of an extended abstract, poster, and ten-minute talk.

The work he presented creates a new way to interact with and steer geospatial models in real time. “In urban geography, it is routine to run simulations using complex space-time models,” Ashwin explains. “But, typically, a user cannot change the simulation inputs or interact with the simulation while it is in progress….tFUTURES provides a web interface that helps you to navigate the simulation timeline.”

For this novel work, Ashwin received a $500 award to cover his travel to the conference and will now advance to the Student Research Competition Grand Finals, competing against students selected at other ACM SIG (Association for Machine Computing Special Interest Group) conferences, including SIGGRAPH, SIGCOMM, and SIGACCESS. The annual Student Research Competition was started by ACM in 2003 and is sponsored by Microsoft; this is the first year that ACM SIGSPATIAL has participated. Winners of the Grand Finals, and their advisors, will be recognized at the annual ACM Awards Banquet to be held sometime next year.

Ashwin is jointly advised by Raju Vatsavai, the center’s associate director of spatial computing and technology, and center director Ross Meentemeyer. In addition to presenting tFUTURES at ACM SIGSPATIAL, Ashwin also co-led a workshop describing methods for modeling urban growth. Congrats to Ashwin on these great achievements!