Microsoft Research Names First Winners of New Faculty Fellowship Awards, Fueling Innovative Research in Computer Science
May 25, 2005
New program steps up Microsoft's engagement with academia by providing creative freedom and collaboration opportunities to today's most promising young professors.

REDMOND, Wash. -- May 25, 2005 -- Microsoft Research today announced the first five recipients of its New Faculty Fellowship Awards, a new program that honors early-career university professors who demonstrate exceptional talent for novel research and thought leadership in their discipline.

Selected from a pool of 110 nominees representing universities across the United States, the five inaugural fellows -- three men and two women -- will each receive a $200,000 cash grant to pursue their innovative research work in computer science. The winners also are given the opportunity to explore collaborations with some of the top researchers working in their area of interest at Microsoft Research.

"We have much to learn, and much to gain, from today's talented young minds," said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research. "Even early in their teaching careers, these award winners are pushing the boundaries of computer science research in exciting new directions. The intellectual curiosity, creative drive and thought leadership they demonstrate is exactly the sort of initiative we seek to encourage in developing programs like the New Faculty Fellowship Awards."

The five Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellows for 2005 are as follows:

  • Frédo Durand is a third-year assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a member of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Durand's research focuses on two areas: realistic image synthesis, where the originality of his work derives from the combination of signal processing and perceptual perspectives; and computational photography, a new field at the convergence of vision and graphics, born from the opportunities offered by digital photography.

  • Subhash Khot is a first-year assistant professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Khot's research tackles fundamental questions regarding which problems can and cannot be solved quickly on a computer. The questions Khot addresses in his work often have deep connections to diverse areas in mathematics, logic, cryptography and computer science.

  • Dan Klein is a first-year assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department at the University of California, Berkeley. Klein's area of interest is natural language processing, which involves getting computers to analyze and understand human languages. His research focuses on designing systems that learn language in an unsupervised way by automatically detecting linguistic structure.

  • Radhika Nagpal is a first-year assistant professor of computer science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Her research interest is in engineering self-organizing, self-repairing systems, using inspiration from biology, and in better understanding robust collective behavior in biological systems.

  • Wei Wang is an assistant professor in her third year of teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A faculty member in the Department of Computer Science, Wang pursues research in the area of data mining, a branch of computer science that focuses on finding patterns within vast data collections. She specializes in bioinformatics applications.

New Faculty Fellowship Awards Program

The University Relations group at Microsoft Research established the New Faculty Fellowship Awards program to identify and support exceptional first-, second- and third-year professors who are advancing the state of the art of computer science research. Microsoft Research recognizes that until young professors can build a reputation, they typically struggle to secure adequate funding for their research work.

The program accepts just one nominee per university and includes a rigorous, multiround selection process that culminates in live interviews before a distinguished panel of reviewers from Microsoft Research and the academic community.

"This program offers a major boost to a young faculty member with an exciting research vision," said Maria Klawe, dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, who helped judge the Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship Awards. "It provides support and credibility for long-term and perhaps risky initiatives. This is extremely important for the field of computing because computing has been trying to cope with major reductions in the funding of fundamental research by government and industry."

Microsoft Research plans to award five New Faculty Fellowships annually. The nomination period for the 2006 New Faculty Fellowship Awards program will open this summer.

About Microsoft Research University Relations

Microsoft Research University Relations, a division of Microsoft Research, is dedicated to building world-class relationships with colleges and universities that enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and establish Microsoft as a leading technology partner for higher education. More information on Microsoft Research University Relations can be found at http://www.research.microsoft.com/collaboration/university.

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