I’m a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan School of Information. I research forced migration and grassroots data to devise sociotechnical strategies that support migrants’ dignity and survival. An ethnographer by training, I do interviews and participant observation to convey the experiences of communities in Latin America and the United States affected by systemic injustice. 

See my CV.

Soy investigadora en la Facultad de Información de la Universidad de Michigan. Investigo sobre migración y datos de base para diseñar estrategias que apoyan la dignidad y superviviencia de los migrantes. Utilizo etnografía y la observación participante para transmitar las experiencias de comunidades latinas afectadas por la injusticia sistémica.

Email me at ssimioni [at] umich [dot] edu.

Follow @fieldmarginalia for updates from the field.

Research areas

Areas de investigación

My work is interdisciplinary by luck and ethnographic by design. I draw from migration studies; human-computer interaction; cultural anthropology; information communication technologies for social change; and science, technology, and society studies. Contexts include migration corridors in the Western Hemisphere; displacement and family separation policies; digital privacy; and gender violence.

Mis investigaciones están situadas en los ámbitos de estudios de migración; la interacción humano-computadora; antropología cultural; tecnología para el cambio social; y estudios de ciencia, tecnología y sociedad. Los contextos incluyen migración en el hemisferio occidental; desplazamiento y separación de familias; privacidad digital; y violencia de género.



March 15, 2022
My latest paper “Coyotes, Caravans, and Connectivity: Digital Practices among Honduran Irregular Migrants” was accepted at the International Conference on Information Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD ‘22). See my talk and read some Q&As about ethical tensions and power dynamics pertinent to this work.

Based on migrants’ perceptions of phone-related monitoring and concerns of deportation and extortion, Dr. Kentaro Toyama and I contribute recommendations for clarifying suspicions over state and cartel surveillance and attending to a broader digital ecology to support migrants’ safety.

December 15, 2021
I designed a syllabus for #ImAlreadyHome: Community-Centered Approaches to Digital Technologies among Immigrants in the U.S. With support from the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative at Rackham Graduate School, this civic engagement course prepares graduate-level students with the ability to discern connections between large-scale digital justice issues and lived experiences among local immigrant communities.

Instructors, interested in adapting it for your classroom? Happy to share class materials upon request.

September 2021-March 2023
With support from the Fulbright U.S. Student Research Award and the Tinker Field Foundation Grant, I am conducting dissertation research in Honduras on forced migration and technologies of resistance.  

August 27, 2021
I changed my last name, plus my publishing identity. Please be patient while I jump through the hoops of a legal name change. Call me Sylvia Darling. 😊

June 7-11, 2021
I co-organized the 2021 Cornell University Summer School on Designing Technology for Social Impact, along with Dr. Nicola Dell, Dr. Phoebe Sengers, and Dr. Kaiton Williams.

The program offered PhD students career-building opportunities for producing transformative, emancipatory research. We were very proud to represent students working on data under conditions of collapse, subaltern media, culture and identity in computing, and more.

July 2020-present
Along with Dr. Michaelanne Thomas, I’m collaborating on a project that explores the sociotechnical dimensions of resolver among Cubans in Havana. We’re trying to understand how sociotechnical innovations are borne from prolonged crises.

March 5-6, 2020
I presented at the University of Michigan-Universidad de Puerto Rico Collaborative Symposium on the UPR Rio Piedras campus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. UM-UPR develops research curricula for secondary school classrooms.

Teachers, need a high school-level lesson plan on migration, citizenship, and human rights? Check this lesson plan adapted from my research on Honduran migration during the Trump era.

November 2019
I gave a guest lecture at Berea College upon the invitation of Dr. Jasmine Jones on researching digital tools for social impact. 

May 21-August 6, 2019
I conducted preliminary fieldwork in the Departments of Copán, Cortés, and Francisco Morazán in Honduras. This summer marked a preliminary step towards understanding how Hondurans who clandestinely cross the border use technnology to facilitate their journey.

May 4-9, 2019
I co-presented a Best Paper in Glasgow, Scotland with Dr. Tawanna Dillahunt at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ‘19).“Online Grocery Delivery Services: An Opportunity to Address Food Disparities in Transportation-scarce Areas” contributes implications for culturally responsive design toward healthful purchases among resource-constrained communities.

Contact me

Ponte en contacto conmigo

Email is the best way to contact me—you can send your inquiries, comments, and/or objections to

Otherwise, you can connect with me on LinkedIn.