Celebrate Pride Month 2024 with ACM

Poster for pride month panel

"Virtual Realities: How Tech Can Empower the LGBTQ+ Community"

Technological advances such as virtual reality (VR) have emerged as an important tool to connect LGBTQ+ individuals worldwide. Queer users have utilized VR and social media platforms to create a safe environment for community gathering and authentic self-expression. To celebrate Pride Month (June 1-30, 2024), “Virtual Realities: How Tech Can Empower the LGBTQ+ Community,” features panelists Andreea Danielescu, Sharone Horowit-Hendler, and Michael Ann Devito and moderator Guo Freeman to share their research on how technology and LGBTQ+ identities can intersect. 

Date & Time: June 12 2024, Wednesday, 11 am - 12 pm ET

Platform: Zoom Webinar [registration]



Picture of Guo FreemanGuo Freeman (she/her)

Dr. Guo Freeman is a Dean’s Associate Professor in Human-Centered Computing and Director of the Gaming and Mediated Experience Lab (CUGAME) at Clemson University, USA. Her research focuses on how interactive technologies such as online games, social VR, and Artificial Intelligence shape interpersonal relationships and group behavior. Her research is also uniquely driven by her focus on marginalized technology users due to their gender, race, sexuality, age, and disability, including women, LGBTQ individuals, ethnic minorities, minors, and persons with disabilities. She has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications and won 13 Best Paper or Honorable Mention Awards at ACM SIGCHI venues. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Army, and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. 



Michael Ann Devito (she/her)

Dr. Michael Ann DeVito is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Communication Studies at Northeastern University, where she directs the Sociotechnical Equity and Agency Lab. She is a qualitative, interpretivist researcher and designer who applies transfeminist and critical approaches to the study of how users and communities understand and adapt to the challenges of AI and machine learning-driven sociotechnical environments via folk theorization and communal sensemaking. 

Dr. DeVito is particularly interested in how marginalized communities leverage social technologies to address both externally imposed inequity and intracommunity conflict, and often acts as a member-researcher within queer and transgender communities, employing her own positionality as a key tool in her grounded theory-based approach. Dr. DeVito holds a PhD in Media, Technology, and Society from Northwestern University, and frequently publishes in venues such as CSCW and CHI.


Andreea Danielescu (she/her) 

Andreea Danielescu is the Director of the Future Technologies R&D group at Accenture Labs. Her research group focused on new emerging technologies that blend the physical and digital. These technologies include biotechnology, smart materials, energy harvesting and storage and neuromorphic computing. Her specific areas of expertise also include conversational and gestural interfaces, wearable technologies, and AI and tech ethics. 

Prior to Accenture she worked as an engineer and researcher on conversational interfaces at both Facebook and Intel. She received her Bachelor's in Computer Science and Mathematics from University of Arizona and her PhD from Arizona State University in Computer Science with an Arts, Media and Engineering concentration. Her thesis work focused on designing gestures for public displays.


Picture of Sharone Horowit-HendlerSharone Horowit-Hendler (they/them) 

Sharone Horowit-Hendler has a PhD in linguistic anthropology with an emphasis on gender studies. Their dissertation, Navigating the Binary, is a study of gender presentation in the nonbinary community. Since then they have been part of the team that developed a nonbinary text to speech voice, co-chaired an AAAI workshop on Gender Identity and AI, and are currently working on a paper examining inherent gender bias in ChatGPT.


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