08/2020: I received my PhD!

Thank you to my wonderful committee for supporting and guiding me through this process!

07/2020: Successfully defended my dissertation :)

My years-long effort has culminated in a successful dissertation defense! Entitled "Interactional Slingshots: Providing Support Structure to User Interactions in Hybrid Intelligence Systems," my dissertation proposes the idea of using interactional slingshots to provide support to user interactions. I demonstrate that building hybrid intelligence systems with each of these interactional slingshot support mechanisms---nudging, assisting, and guiding a user’s interaction with data---improves annotation outcomes, such as annotation speed, accuracy, effort level, even when annotators’ expertise and skill levels vary.

06/2020: Awarded a Rackham Graduate Student Grant

Grateful to the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan for awarding me a Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant! Rackham's funding has been instrumental in my being able to attend conferences and carrying out research work, so three cheers for them! :)

02/2020: Co-instructor for EECS Inclusive teaching workshops

Working with five other fantastic colleagues, I co-taught multiple workshops addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion issues in EECS courses. These workshops were aimed at EECS instructional staff and presented inclusive teaching efforts that help reduce barriers to success that CSE students face in the classroom.

01/2020: Instructor for EECS 493 (again!)

This time, I get to lecture alongside one of my teaching inspirations: Prof. Mark Guzdial!

09/2019: Graduate Student Instructor for EECS 493

05/2019: Summer internship at Microsoft Research

Over the moon to be interning at Microsoft Research for Summer 2019! I will be working with and learning from my mentors Justin Cranshaw and Pamela Bhattacharya. We'll be looking at what it means for relationship management if we had an intelligent assistant (like to help with this task. Holla @ me if you'll be in Seattle anytime in the summer :)

05/2019: Paper at ACL

Our submission entitled "A Large-Scale Corpus for Conversation Disentanglement" has been accepted at ACL 2019! (This work was led by Jonathan Kummerfeld, our lab's amazing postdoc.)

01/2019: Instructor for EECS 493

I'm an Instructor of Record for EECS 493: User Interface Development for the Winter 2019 semester! This senior-level course presents design methods, UI abstractions, and practical examples of tools and languages commonly used in (web) UI development---all grounded within core HCI principles.

11/2018: UMich CSE Graduate Honors Competition finalist

I was the "Interactive Systems" representative for this year's honors competition! I talked about my work in creating robust, reliable, and deployable systems by leveraging crowdsourcing to create new training processes in order to solve real-world problems. Click here for a press article covering this event.

09/2018: Workshop paper at CSCW

Our submission entitled "Challenges in Making Situated Interactions Accessible to Motor-Impaired Users" got accepted to the Accessible Voice Interfaces Workshop at CSCW 2018!

04/2018: Paper at HCOMP

Our submission entitled "EURECA: Enhanced Understanding of Real Environments via Crowd Assistance" has been accepted at HCOMP 2018!

Teaching Experience

As Instructor of Record

EECS 493 (User Interface Development) -- Winter 2020 and Winter 2019

From the Syllabus: Starting from core HC foundations and principles, students gain practical experience with the design, implementation, and testing of user interfaces. This course will present design methods, UI abstractions, and practical examples of tools and languages commonly used in UI development. The course and project will be focused on web development for UI creation. Significant experience with object-oriented programming is assumed, and experience with web technologies is beneficial. The course will cover some of the core concepts and methods in web programming, but will do so at a rapid pace.

As Graduate Student Instructor

EECS 493 (User Interface Development) -- Fall 2019 and Fall 2018

See above for a description!

EECS 388 (Intro to Computer Security) -- Winter 2016 and Fall 2015

From the Syllabus: This course teaches the security mindset and introduces the principles and practices of computer security as applied to software, host systems, and networks. It covers the foundations of building, using, and managing secure systems. Topics include standard cryptographic functions and protocols, threats and defenses for real-world systems, incident response, and computer forensics.



ACL / Florence, Italy / July 2019

A Large-Scale Corpus for Conversation Disentanglement

Jonathan K. Kummerfeld, Sai R. Gouravajhala, Joseph J. Peper, Vignesh Athreya, Chulaka Gunasekara, Jatin Ganhotra, Siva Sankalp Patel, Lazaros C Polymenakos, Walter Lasecki

[ Collaboration with IBM Research AI ]


HCOMP / Zurich, Switzerland / July 2018

EURECA: Enhanced Understanding of Real Environments via Crowd Assistance

Sai R. Gouravajhala, Jinyeong Yim, Karthik Desingh, Yanda Huang, Odest Chadwicke Jenkins, Walter S. Lasecki

[ Collaboration with the Lab for PROGRESS here at Michigan! :) ]


Collective Intelligence (CI) / Zurich, Switzerland / July 2018

Finding Mnemo: Hybrid Intelligence Memory in a Crowd-Powered Dialog System

Sai R. Gouravajhala, Youxuan Jiang, Preetraj Kaur, Jarir Chaar, Walter S. Lasecki

[ Collaboration with IBM Research ]


Collective Intelligence (CI) / New York City, NY, USA / June 2017

Towards Hybrid Intelligence for Robotics

Sai R. Gouravajhala, Jean Young Song, Jinyeong Yim, Raymond Fok, Yanda Huang, Fan Yang, Kyle Wang, Yilei An, Walter S. Lasecki


Preprint / arXiv

arXiv preprint / Online / Oct 2018

Analyzing Assumptions in Conversation Disentanglement Research Through the Lens of a New Dataset and Model

Jonathan K. Kummerfeld, Sai R. Gouravajhala, Joseph Peper, Chulaka Gunasekara, Jatin Ganhotra, Siva Sankalp Patel, Lazaros Polymenakos, Walter S. Lasecki

[ Collaboration with IBM Research ]



Accessible Voice Interfaces / CSCW / Jersey City, NJ, USA / Nov 2018

Challenges in Making Situated Interactions Accessible to Motor-Impaired Users

Sai R. Gouravajhala, Harmanpreet Kaur, Raymond Fok, Walter S. Lasecki


Human-Centered Machine Learning (HCML) / CHI / Denver, CO, USA / May 2016

Towards Crowd-Assisted Data Mining

Sai R. Gouravajhala, Danai Koutra, Walter S. Lasecki


Current Projects

Generalized Object Recognition for Robots

Automated computer vision approaches to detecting objects in a scene require lots of training data; however, these automated approaches can often fail in real-world settings since objects can be occluded, broken, deformed, or in different configurations than those that were used to train the classifiers.

Our goal in this project is to go from limited knowledge about how an object can be in different configurations to an expanded knowledge---all from non-expert crowd worker manipulations of initial object configurations.


How can we create reliable and more robust robot perception (3D vision)? We introduce EURECA, a web-based, mixed-initiative, collaborative annotation tool. EURECA lets groups of people (such as crowds on the internet) collectively ground natural language references to objects in 3D scenes in real time.

Our approach requires no prior human or machine training and can in fact generate training data. We target settings where automated systems will have already failed, so this approach is still complementary to existing CV approaches if we have access to preprocessed clusters, labels, etc. The ultimate goal is to help robots β€œsee” their environments better.

Collective Crowd Memory

Crowd-powered conversational systems---in which ever-changing groups of remote human workers collectively hold a conversation with end users---can help bootstrap automated dialog systems by generating training data in real scenarios and succeed where well-trained automated approaches fail. However, since no one worker is present during all sessions, these systems fail to remember all relevant information from interactions that span multiple sessions, leading over time to the loss of conversational context.

We introduce Mnemo, a crowd-powered dialog system plug-in that uses collective processes and automated support to maintain a β€œcollective crowd memory” of user conversations through crowd-generated facts, which workers predict would be important when a similar topic is again discussed in the future by a given user.


LegionTools (LT) is a software tool that allows users to easily recruit and route Amazon Mechanical Turk workers for synchronous realtime crowdsourcing tasks. It was first developed by researchers from HCI at the University of Rochester and is now being maintained by researchers from the Crowds + Machines (CROMA) Lab at the University of Michigan.

LegionTools makes it easier for researchers (and other users) to interface with Amazon Mechanical Turk for their crowdsourcing tasks. LT allows users to create HITs with richer options, as well as makes it easier to keep track of posted HITs, bonus payments, etc. LT also enables real time crowdsourcing applications to interface with AMT and takes care of recruiting, retaining, and routing workers to specific tasks.

Click HERE for more details!