Member Profile: Yamen Saraiji

1. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it?

After finishing my PhD in 2018 at Keio University in Japan, I started my career in academia asan assistant professor at Keio University for two years until March 2020. During these two years, I worked with numerous students and researchers as a mentor, educator, and researcher.Afterward, I joined the industry as a director at AvatarIn Inc. in Tokyo at which I am in charge of the software research and development division. Currently, we are developing a platform for telepresence robotics and teleoperated avatars.

2. What was your first job?

During my computer science undergraduate degree, one of the main passions I had is the study of interactive media and computer graphics. So, after finishing my bachelor’s degree in 2010, I joined a local game development company as a senior software developer until late 2011. My role was focused on the game engine development, and conducted several researchers for real-time rendering and shaders.

3. Where did you complete your formal education?

I finished my computer science bachelor’s degree at Damascus University in Syria, where I am originally from. Later on from 2013, I started my Master’s degree at Keio University in Japan at which I finished in March 2015, followed by in April same year I started my Ph.D. degree inMedia Design at the same graduate school. I received my Ph.D. degree successfully after three years in March 2018.

4. How did you first get involved with ACM SIGGRAPH?

I knew about ACM SIGGRAPH ever since I started studying the game and computer graphics industry in 2008 at which I was doing a lot of research on computer graphics and rendering. But I didn’t have the chance to attend the conference until 2013 at which I joined as a Student Volunteer in SIGGRAPH Asia which was held in Hong Kong. Since then, I joined the conference both in Asia and North America almost every year either as a conference contributor or as a volunteer.

5. What is your favorite memory of a SIGGRAPH conference?

I had plenty of great moments at SIGGRAPH both as a volunteer and a contributor, but probably the best was attending a presentation that hosted “Ivan Sutherland” as a key speaker, at which he shared his journey in science and research, and his past involvement in Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality (VR/AR).

6. Describe a project that you would like to share with the ACM SIGGRAPH community.

During the past four to five years, I have had a keen interest in Human Augmentation and supernumerary robotic limbs. I started this as a research topic during my Ph.D. degree and I conducted numerous researches with my colleagues and students. As an outcome, we presented this project’s results at SIGGRAPH Emerging Technology in consecutive years, 2016/MetaLimbs, 2018/Fusion, 2019/Arque, and this year 2020/SlideFusion. These projects were about extending our body’s representation and schema which they established numerous interesting ideas in the research and assistive technologies communities.

7. If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why?

Alan Turing, one of the most aspiring characters which got me hooked to computer science and AI during my undergraduate studies, and from which I continued my journey in this field.

8. What is something most people don’t know about you?

I recently developed a keen interest in motorcycles and e-vehicles as means to expand my freedom and to fulfill my thirst for exploring all the hidden gems in Japan more than as a way of commuting.

Before obtaining the motorcycle, I used to use my electric skateboard which is super fun but for a limited distance. Now I am super excited about the 1000+ km trip for the western side of Japan’s Island!

9. From which single individual have you learned the most in your life? What did they teach you?

One of the main influencers I was lucky to have been my uncle, which I dedicated most of my teenage training Taekwondo at his dojo, and who helped me to balance my competitiveness and fairness attitudes.

10. Is there someone in particular who has influenced your decision to work with ACM SIGGRAPH?

My professor, Masahiko Inami, who introduced me to SIGGRAPH Volunteering Program in 2013.

11. What can you point to in your career as your proudest moment?

Establishing my research group Radical Bodies in April 2018 when I started my academic career at Keio University, and it was a fulfilling feeling when my students started publishing at high reputation conferences such as SIGGRAPH. Now I am super excited for the next milestone in my new career in industry, and its intersection with academia and research!