Significant New Researcher Award

The significant new research award is given to a researcher who has made a recent, significant contribution to the field of computer graphics and is new to the field (i.e., received their Ph.D. or the equivalent up to seven years ago). The intent is to recognize people who have already made a notable contribution very early in their careers and are likely to make more. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize.

Current Recipient

Adriana Schulz

For her outstanding contributions to interactive 3D design tools for physical artifacts

ACM SIGGRAPH is pleased to present the 2024 Significant New Researcher Award to Adriana Schulz for her outstanding contributions to interactive 3D design tools for physical artifacts.

Adriana’s research focuses on design tools for physical artifacts while drawing on modern advances in algorithms, physical analysis, optimization, robotics, machine learning, and programming languages. While computer-aided design (CAD) tools have a long history of assisting in the creation of 3D models of physical artifacts, there remains a high barrier to entry for new users of these tools. Even when complicated tools are mastered, large portions of the workflow take enormous amounts of time. Another major issue is that it is not clear whether a digital design can actually be built or even — when it can be built — whether it will break or fail to work properly in the physical world. Adriana’s work is notable because it addresses all of these problems across the design workflow.

Adriana’s many contributions include a design-by-example tool which allows novice users to build complex physical objects such as furniture and go-carts using parts and templates derived from existing designs. Adriana’s work on interactive design spaces brings elastic stress analysis inside the design process, avoiding costly and error prone interfacing with slow external simulation tools. To bring the inherent editability of well-parametrized CAD models to scanned shapes, she has co-developed an “inverse-CSG” optimization built on a state-of-the-art SAT solver. She has also co-developed tools to design and fabricate various functional robots leveraging physical analysis and machine learning techniques. At the University of Washington, Adriana and her students have embraced the CAD philosophy that 3D designs are programs ​​and have observed that similar abstractions can be used for fabrication plans. To this end, Adriana has pioneered work on domain specific programming language design for fabrication. This work enables design through program synthesis as well as the translation of design into fabrication plans through compilation.

In addition to research, Adriana has championed inclusivity in the SIGGRAPH community. She founded and directs the ACM Community Group for Women in Graphics (WiGRAPH), which has grown from informal lunches at the ACM SIGGRAPH Conference into a multifaceted outreach organization, which hosts the WiGRAPH Rising Stars program (with comprehensive workshops, panels, and networking opportunities), online resources for new and graduating students, and the annual lunch event at SIGGRAPH, which has now spread to other conferences such as the Symposium on Geometry Processing.

Adriana earned her Bachelor degree in Electronics Engineering from UFRJ (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), her Masters degree in Mathematics from IMPA (Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada), and her Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 2018, under the supervision of Wojciech Matusik. During her Ph.D., she also worked with Eitan Grinspun at Columbia University and Daniela Rus at MIT. Currently, Adriana  is an Assistant Professor at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, and a member of the UW Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL). She is also co-director of the UW Digital Fabrication Center (DFab)


Previous Recipients

  • 2023 Felix Heide
  • 2022 Justin Solomon
  • 2021 Jonathan Ragan-Kelley
  • 2020 Alec Jacobson
  • 2019 Wenzel Jakob
  • 2018 Gordon Wetzstein
  • 2017 Bernd Bickel
  • 2016 Chris Wojtan
  • 2015 Johannes Kopf
  • 2014 Noah Snavely
  • 2013 Niloy Mitra
  • 2012 Karen Liu
  • 2011 Olga Sorkine
  • 2010 Alexei Efros
  • 2009 Wojciech Matusik
  • 2008 Maneesh Agrawala
  • 2007 Ravi Ramamoorthi
  • 2006 Takeo Igarashi
  • 2005 Ron Fedkiw
  • 2004 Zoran Popović
  • 2003 Mathieu Desbrun
  • 2002 Steven J. Gortler
  • 2001 Paul E. Debevec

Nomination Procedure

ACM SIGGRAPH members are encouraged to nominate individuals for the Significant New Researcher Award by sending an email to the Technical Awards Chair ( by January 31 of each year.


  • Name, address, phone number, and email address of the nominator
  • Name and email address of the candidate
  • Suggested citation (maximum of 25 words)
  • Nomination statement (maximum of 500 words in length) addressing why the candidate should receive this award

Your nomination should describe a candidate’s most significant research contribution and its impact. The Technical Awards Committee uses nomination statements as the main basis for their selections, so a concise and clear statement is strongly encouraged.