Angélica Aparecida Moreira

When I first joined my university’s PhD program in the second semester of 2018, participating in an in-person conference seemed a given — it was par for the course to publish and present conference papers. Fate, however, had other things planned. In early 2020, all conferences went remote-only due to the pandemic, coincidentally when I had submitted my first conference paper. That paper, “VESPA: static profiling for binary optimization”, ended up being published in OOPSLA 2021, where I presented it remotely. While that was an enriching experience, I felt like I had missed out on the opportunity to receive live feedback on my work, and connect and talk directly to peers in my research area. I was thus overjoyed to get to attend PLDI 2022 as my first in-person conference, after a long break of almost three years of virtual conferences during COVID-19 restrictions. Although I was lucky enough to be invited to present my work at a SIGPLAN Track in the conference, I ended up not being able to present, due to some unfortunate circumstances. Regardless, I was fortunate in other ways. I had the chance to engage with countless mentors, and had the opportunity to discuss my work with a number of distinguished professors and researchers. Professor KC Sivaramakrishnan from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras), for instance, who gave me the idea to apply my research to OCaml, and also showed me work that was very interesting to read. I also had the pleasure to meet my academic “grandfather”, professor Jens Palsberg from UCLA, as well as the great Kathryn McKinley, a Principal Scientist at Google. Not only did I have the chance to meet them, I also took pictures with them!
Attending PLDI 2022 in person was an unforgettable experience. I had the opportunity to see not only the coolest projects accepted in PLDI itself, but also cool projects from past years’ (2020-2021) editions of other conferences, such as ICFP, OOPSLA, POPL and PLDI. In a way, it was everything I had missed from not being able to attend conferences in person in the last two years condensed, and it delivered!

Another highlight was participating in the first Women at PLDI (W@PLDI) dinner. I sincerely hope this becomes a tradition at the conference, since it was marvelous to be surrounded by great women researchers and students in the programming languages area. Talking and sharing experiences with them all was memorable. At the dinner, I had the pleasure to meet my SIGPLAN Mentor, professor Sukyoung Ryu from the School of Computing at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). She is an incredible source of wisdom, and someone that I will look up to as a mentee.

I made friends with Karuna Grewal from Cornell, Raghav Malik, Patrick LaFontaine and Songlin Jia from Purdue and Lars Hummelgren from KTH. I not only shared with them my research but also had the pleasure to hear about and discuss their own research. Besides they were great people to hang out with during the bonfires sponsored by Meta and Microsoft :).

Most importantly, the truth is if it were not for the financial assistance provided by ACM-W and SIGPLAN PAC, I would not have been able to live this experience. I will be forever grateful for this valuable opportunity that they have provided. Because of these travel grants, I had the chance to strengthen my bonds with my fellow research peers and be surrounded by incredible and memorable students and researchers from my area. This was the opportunity to put faces to the names I only knew from reading papers! I also had the opportunity to broadcast the work we produce at the laboratory I am affiliated with at UFMG, the Compilers Laboratory, experience cultural differences and share knowledge. Thank you so much ACM-W committee, Google for sponsoring the ACM-W scholarship and the SIGPLAN PAC committee for this epic experience! I hope I will have the opportunity to attend other PLDI editions for years to come!