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Greetings from Brazil: Microsoft Research and FAPESP Open 2010 Latin American Faculty Summit

May 12, 2010 | By Microsoft blog editor

Guarujá, Brasil 

Impactful research and discovery enhances the quality of life across our planet. That’s one of the reasons I am honored to chair Microsoft Research’s sixth annual Latin American Faculty Summit in Guarujá, Brazil. The summit is a great example of Microsoft Research’s commitment to working with universities around the world, contributing to regional research agendas and increasing research capacity. The summit showcases meaningful ways in which Microsoft and its researchers are combining science and technology to deliver on the event’s theme, Computing: Making the Difference.


During the summit, more than 200 academic leaders from around the world and representatives from multilateral and governmental organizations are coming together to share their approaches on addressing important challenges. Their areas of focus and expertise include health and wellbeing; earth, energy and environment; and astronomy.


The spirit of collaboration has been at the heart of this year’s summit from its inception. Early on, a partnership was developed by Microsoft Research with the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP, the São Paulo Research Foundation), to sponsor the summit. FAPESP was founded in 1962 as an independent public foundation whose mission is to foster research, scientific, and technological development in the state of Sao Paulo. In April 2007, Microsoft Research and FAPESP created the Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Research. The institute establishes a network of world-class researchers able to expand technological capabilities in support of social and economic needs in Brazil.


While this year’s summit officially opened this morning, the learning began yesterday, with pre-summit tutorials, which attracted capacity crowds. Morning tutorials focused on tools that support e-research, providing attendees a deep view into freely available tools offered by Microsoft External Research and a demonstration of how they can supplement and enhance e-research. Tools highlighted included Zentity, a research-output repository platform, and the recently launched Chemistry Add-in for Word. Afternoon tutorials will focus on health-and-wellbeing projects from Microsoft External Research, specifically the Microsoft Biology Foundation, how it can be used to build scientific applications, and how it can be integrated with existing Microsoft applications.


Much like the rainforests in Brazil, to which researchers of many diverse fields flock from around the world, the LATAM Faculty Summit features an agenda that is truly interdisciplinary. The summit opened this morning with a keynote speech by Tony Hey, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of External Research, who discussed the coupling of scientific research and cloud computing—and its implications for the global research community. Today attendees will have the opportunity to learn about cutting edge research in both healthcare and environment, with talks on Global Climate Modeling and Fighting HIV with Machine Learning. Tomorrow, attendees will choose from an impressive array of sessions organized along two research tracks: computer-science and computing in e-science.


This summit is more than a job for me; it’s something I care about deeply. The gathering of researchers from different disciplines across the region sends a strong signal that we’re building the critical mass necessary to create new opportunities for scientific discoveries. When there’s solid collaboration under way, tangible results will be achieved. If today’s sessions are a barometer of that progress, we’re off to a good start.


Jaime Puente, director for External Research, Latin America and the Caribbean, Microsoft Research