Personal profile

Artistic and research interests

Prof. Nitin Sawhney leads the CRAI-CIS (CRitical AI and Crisis Interrogatives) research group in the Department of Computer Science at Aalto University. Working at the intersection of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), responsible AI, and participatory design research, he examines the critical role of technology, civic agency, and social justice in society and crisis contexts. Prof. Sawhney has previously conducted research in speech/audio interaction, wearable computing, distributed open source collaboration, civic/participatory media at the MIT Media Lab and The New School.

At Aalto University, he is the principal investigator for a 3-year Research Council of Finland project on Reconstructing Crisis Narratives for Trustworthy Communication and Cooperative Agency, jointly conducted with the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). It aims to analyze crisis narratives using mixed-methods, combining qualitative research with computational data analytics of crisis discourses in news, health communications, and social media. In December 2021, he received an award from the Kone Foundation for a 4-year research project Civic Agency in AI? Democratizing Algorithmic Services in the City (CAAI), which was subsequently awarded an additional 4-years of funding from the Research Council of Finland in June 2023. In September 2022, he was awarded a Strategic Research Council grant for the project Designing Inclusive & Trustworthy Digital Public Services for Migrants in Finland (Trust-M)

Prof. Sawhney is a member of the research program on AI and Society at the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence (FCAI). At Aalto University he helped establish the research areas on Digital Ethics, Society and Policy (Digital ESP) and Human-Computer Interaction and Design (HCID). His work has been published in journals including IEEE MultimediaACM Transactions on Computer-Human interactionPersonal and Ubiquitous ComputingPlanning Practice & ResearchAI & Society: Knowledge, Culture and Communication, and Digital Creativity. He is an associate editor for the International Journal of Child Computer Interaction.

He has previously been involved in several tech startups in clinical data platforms and real-time news and social media analysis in Cambridge and New York, and co-directed two feature-length documentary films in Gaza and Guatemala. 

CRAI-CIS Research Group:

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Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Te Awa Tupua: Sacred Rivers and Cooperative Urban AI Ecosystems

    Sawhney, N., 6 Jul 2020, (Unpublished) Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (DIS 2020): Workshop on Urban AI: Formulating an Agenda for the Interdisciplinary Research of Artificial Intelligence in Cities. Eindhoven, Netherlands: ACM, 9 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    29 Downloads (Pure)
  • Augmented reality sandboxes: children's play and storytelling with mirror worlds

    Leinonen, T., Brinck, J., Vartiainen, H. & Sawhney, N., 8 Jan 2021, In: Digital Creativity. 32, 1, p. 38-55 18 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    Open Access
    8 Citations (Scopus)
    258 Downloads (Pure)
  • Re-thinking Pedagogy and Dis-embodied Interaction for Online Learning and Co-Design

    Ylirisku, S., Jang, G. & Sawhney, N., 15 Aug 2021, Proceedings of Nordes 2021: Matters of Scale. Design School Kolding, Vol. 9. 10 p. (Nordic Design Research Conference).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    Open Access
    249 Downloads (Pure)
  • Ecologies of Contestation in Participatory Design

    Sawhney, N. & Tran, A. T., 15 Jun 2020, 16th Participatory Design Conference (PDC 2020). Del Gaudio, C., Parra-Agudelo, L., Clarke, R., Saad-Sulonen, J., Botero, A., Botero, A., Londono, F. C., Londono, F. C. & Escandon Suarez, P. A. (eds.). ACM, p. 172-181 10 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
  • Cooperative Crisis Response among Emergency Responders & AI Systems

    Sawhney, N., 9 Sept 2019, 22nd ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing. ACM

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientificpeer-review