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SIS Director Diane Kelly Completes Term as Chair of Top Information Retrieval Organization

From left, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, CTO of NTENT, and SIS Director Diane Kelly

Photo by Ricardo Baeza-Yates

SIS Director Diane Kelly recently traveled to Paris and wrapped up a fruitful three years as chair of ACM SIGIR (Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval). She ushered in a new chair at the 2019 ACM SIGIR Conference, which Kelly said is the oldest, and most distinguished, information retrieval conference. Kelly will continue to serve for another three years on the leadership team as past-chair.

SIGIR, the organization, was founded in 1963, held its first co-sponsored meeting in 1971, and its first conference in 1978. It sponsors a number of conferences each year, including the flagship conference, ACM SIGIR, which this year, was attended by over 1,000 participants.

Kelly said she has greatly enjoyed her time as chair and has especially appreciated having the support of an outstanding and ambitious executive committee, “As a committee, we’ve been very focused on building community. We have a lot of talented members and it has been fun listening to them, creating opportunities for them to share their passions and expertise, and developing programs that help others build their careers and reach their goals.”

During her time of leadership, Kelly said the executive committee engaged in a variety of new initiatives and projects, including:

  • Creating the ACM SIGIR/SIGKDD Africa Summer School on Machine Learning for Data Mining and Search; the inaugural session of the school occurred in January in South Africa.
  • Starting an annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion lunch at the ACM SIGIR conference. This year’s lunch, which Kelly organized, focused on conference accessibility and included a speaker who discussed challenges people face attending conferences. As a result, the ACM SIGIR executive committee will ask future conference organizers to include a conference accessibility chair.
  • Supporting a large student travel grant program that supports travel to five different conferences and creating a student liaison program to allow students to participate in governance and organize student-focused events.
  • Beginning a complete redesign and rebranding of the organization’s website, which is still in progress.

Overall, Kelly said she’s pleased with the executive committee’s work during her time as chair, and that she looks forward to continuing her service to the SIGIR community as past chair.

“The conference features the highest quality, cutting-edge research in the field, and the organization is a supportive, person-centered community that provides infrastructure and opportunities to people all around the world who are interested in improving information access for the greater good,” Kelly said.

Before attending the SIGIR Conference, Kelly taught and mentored students at the 12th European Summer School in Information Retrieval in Milan, Italy. This is a week-long intensive program for graduate students to learn about information retrieval. Kelly gave a lecture, “Foundations of User-Oriented Information Retrieval: User Interfaces and User-Centered Evaluation,” and participated on a panel about teaching and learning information retrieval. “Being around students who are interested in pursuing information retrieval research in their PhD studies is energizing and invigorating. It was a great pleasure sharing what I know with them and hearing about their research ideas and plans,” Kelly said. Kelly also participated in the doctoral consortium at the ACM SIGIR Conference, where she mentored and gave feedback to students about their dissertation research.

Pictured: From left, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, CTO of NTENT, and SIS Director Diane Kelly