Bio & Publications

Kagonya Awori is a Computer Engineering PhD at the Microsoft Research Social Natural User Interfaces lab, at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her PhD informs how to design video-mediated technologies that mediate indigenous knowledge praxis over distance. She holds a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Bachelors in Business Information Technology from Strathmore University, Kenya.

In 2012, Kagonya was part of the team that founded the iHub UX Lab in 2012, which was the first Design lab in East Africa dedicated to UX. The building of the UX Lab was featured in an XRDS article in 2012. She then went on to found WananCHI, an ACM SIGCHI local chapter, and co-hosted the first Tajriba, an annual UX workshop for students and entrepreneurs.  

Also in 2012, Kagonya co-created the Umati project, with the aim of investigating and curbing online hate speech. Umati was the first project globally to collect, analyse and synthesise hate speech reports en masse using Machine Learning and NLP. Umati started in Kenya and in three years was implemented in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Myanmar and South Sudan. Kagonya served as the technical lead and UX lead of Umati. Her work in Umati has been reported in the Guardian, Medium, Kenyan news sites and academic publications. She is also one of the leads of Mobiotrics, a biometric application developed to facilitate secure and easy access to health and financial information. Mobiotrics has been used by clients such as USAID and MP3Youth.

Keen to promote HCI in and from Africa, Kagonya was part of a committee that organised the inaugural conference for HCI in Africa, AfriCHI, which was hosted in-cooperation with ACM SIGCHI in 2016. She served as technical co-chair of AfriCHI 2016. In 2014, Kagonya received the Google Anita Borg award (reported here) for demonstrating outstanding academic achievement, leadership and community involvement in Computer Engineering, and received the Human Computer Interface/ Interaction Design Award sponsored by Microsoft Research SocialNUI Centre in 2016.


Awori, K., Vetere, F., Smith, W., 2015

Technology, Transnationalism And Indigenous Knowledge: Insights From The Kenyan Diaspora

In Proceedings of CHI '15. April 18-23 2015, Seoul, South Korea. pp 3759-3768

McKay, D., Awori, K., & Ferdous, H. S. (2015).

Three is a crowd? Our experience of testing large-scale social software in a usability lab.

In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Australian Special Interest Group for Computer Human Interaction, Parkville, VIC, Australia.

Awori, K., 2015

What indigenous knowledge is not: an introductory note. In N. Bidwell & H. Winschiers-Theophilus (Eds.), At the intersection of traditional and indigenous knowledge and technology design. Santa Rosa, California: Informing Science Press.

Sambuli, N. and Awori, K., 2014

Monitoring Online Dangerous Speech in Kenya: Insights from the Umati Project

Communications technology and humanitarian delivery: challenges and opportunities for security risk management. Vazquez Llorente R. and W. I., European Interagency Security Forum (EISF).

Peters, A., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., Awori, K., Bidwell, N., Blake, E., Kumar, A., Chivuno-Kuria, S., 2014

Collaborating with Communities in Africa: A Hitchhikers Guide

CHI2014 Extended Abstracts. Toronto, Canada

Awori, K., Benesch, S., Crandall, A., 2013

Umati: Kenyan Online Discourse To Catalyze And Counter Violence

In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Social Implications of Computers in Developing Countries. May 19-22,2013, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. pp 469-475

Awori, K., Clark, E., Goncalves, A., Effner, T., Yang, J., Oakley, I. and Nunes, N.. 2012.

FlyTalk: Social Media to Meet the Needs of Air Travelers

In Proceedings of CHI '12. May 5–10, 2012, Austin, Texas, USA.

Awori, K., Clark, E., Goncalves, A., Effner, T., Yang, J., Oakley, I. and Nunes, N.. 2012.

Supporting the aviation industry: a traveler-centered approach

In Proceedings of DIS '12. June 11-15, 2012, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. pp 693-696.

Kamau, M., Crandall, A., Awori, K., 2012

User Experience in Nairobi's iHub Community

XRDS, Winter 2012: ACM.