Interview: Prof. Mike McGrath
Prof. Mike McGrath is a faculty member at the School of Mines in Colorado. He has been involved with SIGGRAPH since 1985. This year he is the Research Posters program chair.
You have served on the Posters Committee in 2005 and this year you have had the honor of being the chair for the Research Posters Committee. How many posters are there this year and what fields do they cover? Was there a particular vision for this years Research Poster program?
This year we had 201 posters submitted and we accepted 179 for presentation at the conference. This is approximately 90 percent acceptance, about the same for the first two years of the poster program. This year we also have 22 posters from a co-located conference: Applied Perception in Graphics and Visualization, APGV.
As part of the poster program we also have the Student Research Competition, the SRC, sponsored by Microsoft Research and administered by ACM. This is a SIG wide competition. There were 70 poster submitters who checked the SRC box and the review committee reduced this to first phase of the competition of 25 posters. These students will compete for the final 3 places. Thanks to Microsoft Research, each of the 25 students will receive up to $500 for their travel expenses.
Often in research, before a paper gets published or an idea gets fleshed out, a poster is created for a conference. Do you see any developing trends in computer graphics from this years posters? Are there any poster submissions this year that have surprised you or excited you about computer graphics?
There was again this year a wide variety of posters submitted in graphics and interactivity. We grouped the 179 posters into 27 different topic areas and interestingly they are about the same as last years groups. Last year we had 135 posters accepted. As you might expect there were several areas that had the larger number of posters: animation, GPU Techniques, Modeling, and Virtual Reality. This year we also had some in education and games. As to surprises, after reviewing 200 posters its hard to remember my name. But I can tell you that the overall quality is very high. Some very impressive projects that should result in papers for future conferences.
The posters at conferences are often great opportunities to meet one on one with researchers, practitioners and students. Do you know of an instance where an attendee of the Research Poster sessions happened to develop a collaboration with a poster presenter? What do you think is unique about the Research Poster session when compared to the other sessions?
I don't know of any specific example but last year there was a good deal of interaction during the scheduled times when the presenters stood by their posters. All the comments I heard were for a very positive experience for all concerned.
Besides the opportunities you mentioned it is also a great opportunity for young researches to gain a first experience and is a great way to become involved in being a part of Siggraph. As Ronen Barzel was the poster chair for the first year. He made an interesting observation that the poster session is inclusive whereas the other venues are very competitive and are meant to be exclusive. We seek to admit at least 90 percent if possible.
This year a majority of the posters were from foreign countries. The US accounted for about 40%. Japan accounted for approximately 30% of the posters. This is a great opportunity for the international community to become involved.
The Research Poster program is a relatively new program at SIGGRAPH. Do you know the history about the introduction (or re-introduction) of a poster program?
Ronen Barzel, incidentally the 09 conference chair, proposed the first poster program in 03 and was the chair for the poster program in 04. It has grown from a very good turnout of 130 posters submitted to the present of over 200 in its third year. I assume the high interest in posters will assure its future in Siggraph conferences. In addition it is very inexpensive to put on. The review process is completely on line. And this year I made a I involved 45 reviewers from 8 different countries.
Chairing the Research Posters Committee must have been a rewarding experience. What contributions to the SIGGRAPH community are you most proud of?
I have been involved with Siggraph since 1985 as a member of the Education Committee. But this was the first conference that I was a chair. This has been a most rewarding experience working with a dedicated group of volunteers who also happen to be a fun group of folks. You just can't beat Siggraph for the interesting characters who inhabit this special graphics universe. It has been both fun and a learning experience.
I am also proud of being a member of the Executive Committee as Director for Education for 4 years and of the opportunity for being a volunteer for so many years to Siggraph. You get so much more back than you ever give.