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Gary Marsden Travel Awards

The Gary Marsden Travel Awards support undergraduate and graduate students, early-career researchers (such as those who are ≤ 5 years post-graduation), and those suffering from financial hardship or lacking institutional support, in attending ACM SIGCHI conferences. Please see our call for applications for specific eligibility criteria, details of the award, and review timelines. 

Submit your application at:

There are seven deadlines: the 9th of January, February, March, May, July, September, and November at 11:59 PM AoE. If we are offering extensions, the new deadline will be noted on the application website. You must apply to a deadline that occurs more than one month prior to the start of the conference that you plan to attend (we recommend applying as soon as you have your conference acceptance). For transparency, award recipients will be announced periodically on the SIGCHI website. Please email with any questions about GMTA or fixes/feedback for the application form.

Frequently asked questions

1. Timelines

I need to apply for a visa. Can you expedite my application? You can mark your application as fast-track and we will get back to you around two weeks after the GMTA cycle you applied to.

When can I expect to receive a decision? Fast-track applicants (those who need to apply for a visa) are notified around two weeks after the deadline to which they have applied. Regular-track applicants are notified around one month after the deadline to which they have applied.

It has been two weeks/one month since the deadline; when will I receive a decision? While we do our best to work with these timelines, there may be reasons for delays by a few days, such as receiving a large number of applications. We notify every applicant, whether they are accepted or not, so you will not be waiting indefinitely. We thank you for your patience!

Do you offer extensions/exceptions on deadlines? No, we generally cannot extend or make exceptions for deadlines. We receive a significant number of applications, which require weeks to pre-process and review in time for the conferences applicants are applying to attend.

2. Preparing your application

Am I required to have a letter of support from my advisor/program chair? No, letters of support, while helpful, are optional. We will rely on the rest of the application to evaluate financial need and benefit to the applicant. 

Can my budget include expenses outside of the conference dates?  Funds can only be used for expenses from two days before the conference to two days after. If you purchase flights outside of conference dates, costs should be comparable or cheaper to flights within the conference dates.

Can funds be used for travel insurance? ACM policy does not allow reimbursement of travel insurance, but if you would like to make a special request, please let us know in your application and we can consider making an exception.

Can funds be used for a rental car? ACM will only reimburse rental cars with prior approval. If you are requesting funds for a rental car, you must include it in your budget when you apply and provide a justification for why it is required compared to cheaper options such as public transport or taxis.

3. Receiving the award

What does my award cover? If you requested support for registration, we cover this through a complimentary code or refund if you have already paid. If you requested support for other travel expenses, we cover this through reimbursements; you will need to submit receipts after the conference. If you requested support for both registration and other travel expenses, your reimbursable amount will be your total awarded amount minus registration.

How do I submit receipts for reimbursement? If your application is accepted, you will later receive an email from ACM allowing you to upload receipts to a reimbursement portal. The portal allows you to upload receipts after the conference is over, so you do not need to wait for the email from ACM to make purchases. Receipts are required for any expense over USD 25 and should contain the amount paid and your name if paid with credit card. Once your receipts are received and approved, you will receive your payment within 30 days (via wire transfer for recipients outside the US and via direct deposit or check for recipients within the US).

Can I still be reimbursed if my flights are outside of the conference dates? If you purchase flights outside of conference dates (beyond two days before or after the conference), costs should be comparable or cheaper to flights within the conference dates.

Can I request an advance, instead of using the reimbursement process? We typically provide registration support via a complimentary code and reimburse other travel expenses. However, in cases of acute financial constraint, we are able to offer an advance for travel expenses, which will allow you to cover expenses prior to travel instead of waiting for a reimbursement. If you have been awarded a GMTA, and cannot cover your travel expenses yourself nor have someone cover them for you, please email explaining your circumstances, and which expenses precisely you would need an advance for. If possible, please mention and copy a mentor or advisor on the email who is aware of your situation and supports your request for an advance. If you are approved for an advance, you will receive further instructions to specify your budget and fill out a US tax form. After the conference, you will need to submit receipts and, if applicable, return any unused portion of the advance.

How can I get a visa support letter?  There should be an option to request a visa support letter when you register for the conference, or instructions on the conference website.

How can I get a financial support letter? When you request your visa support letter (see above), please include your GMTA acceptance notification and how much you were awarded so that it can be added to the visa support letter.

I can no longer attend the conference I received the award for (due to visa or other issues). Can I use the award for another conference? We cannot transfer the award to another conference, but we suggest applying to a future GMTA cycle and noting in the application that you received the award for a previous conference but did not use it (please specify which conference). This helps us ensure we evaluate applications for the specific conference being applied for.

I can no longer attend the conference I received the award for (due to visa or other issues). Can I transfer the award to someone else? We generally cannot transfer the award to another person, but that person can apply to the GMTA directly (if an appropriate deadline is still available). This helps us ensure we can review the same information for all applicants.

I did not receive my visa on time. Can I still get reimbursed for travel expenses? You can get reimbursed for non-refundable expenses, with documentation that they are non-refundable (or have cancellation fees).

About Gary Marsden

Headshot of Gary Marsden

Gary Marsden, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa, was a passionate advocate for people—all people. A pioneer in the field of Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD), he was an inspiration for his students, his colleagues, his community, the profession and, indeed, the world. After getting his doctorate and working for several years in London, he moved to South Africa to work at UCT in 1999. There, his research focused on mobile device interfaces with the goal of targeting inclusive design. He died very suddenly of a heart attack in December, 2013 at the age of 43, days before his birthday. It is in his honor and memory that this award is named. For more information on his rich life, see the memorandum in interactions magazine.

Travel Awards, Past and Present

We reaffirm our commitment to fostering equitable participation in SIGCHI venues. We acknowledge that much work remains to be done on addressing underrepresented voices in our community. Like other SIGCHI community support initiatives, our travel awards are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion, locally and globally, from a racial/ethnic perspective as well as attending to different dimensions of marginality, including cultural differences, social roles, sexual orientation and gender identity, structural positions, geographic marginality, physical/psychological marginality, as well as epistemic marginality. Multiple efforts are underway to dedicate more resources to these margins, and to be as inclusive as possible in all we do.

Previous iterations of this program were the SIGCHI Student Travel Grants and the Gary Marsden Fund, which were merged into the Gary Marsden Travel Awards in December 2020. We are grateful to the following volunteers for supporting and reviewing for these programs in the past: Zhengjie Liu, Anicia Peters, Gerrit van der Veer, Matt Jones, Simone Barbosa, Susan Dray, AJ Brush, Astrid Weber, Jofish Kaye, and Natalie Garrett. Current reviewers for the Gary Marsden Travel Awards will be listed under SIGCHI committees.