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Joint research center reaches new heights for environmental sciences

July 17, 2013 | Posted by Microsoft Research Blog

Joint research center reaches new heights for environmental sciences

I enjoy being able to work in technology because it has the potential for great impact in a range of research areas. But, more specifically, I have the privilege to work with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) in Brazil to achieve that goal. Together, Microsoft Research and FAPESP created a joint research center in 2006—the Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute for IT Research—that has been going strong ever since.

The Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute for IT Research supports high-quality fundamental research in information and communication technologies. In the beginning, the center focused on addressing social and economic development needs in the São Paulo region. However, in recent years, the research has focused primarily on learning about the environment by using advanced technologies.

Fueling the Future: FAPESP

I am very pleased to announce that the Microsoft Research-FAPESP Institute for IT Research recently concluded its sixth request for proposal (RFP) cycle by selecting two winning proposals in the area of environmental sciences.

The objective of the sixth RFP was to explore the application of computing science to the challenges of basic research in areas related to global climate change and the environmental sciences. Researchers worldwide acknowledge that technology can provide powerful tools for environmental research, benefiting society and aiding in the planet’s sustainability. As such, this request for proposals focused on turning data into knowledge.
Respondents had the option of developing their own technology application or using an existing technology that was developed by Microsoft Research (for example, research accelerators that can be used to manage, publish, analyze, or visualize a research project, or new tools for science).

The two winning proposals from the submissions received are:

Towards an Understanding of Tipping Points within Tropical South American Biomes, submitted by Principal Investigator Ricardo Torres of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP)

Combining New Technologies to Monitor Phenology from Leaves to Ecosystems, submitted by Principal Investigator Patrícia Morellato of the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP)

Notably, Morellato’s project is a follow-up to the recently concluded e-Phenology project, which was selected under the fourth Microsoft Research-FAPESP RFP. The research team also submitted a proposal to the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science (CEES) team and was awarded with a set of Mataki sensors to monitor small animals in the location where they are already monitoring the vegetation. The goal of that project is to explore correlations between the vegetation and small animals’ behavior and to gather a more complete understanding of how the ecosystem functions.

Congratulations to both the UNICAMP and UNESP teams on their winning submissions! I look forward to seeing the results of their research.

—Juliana Salles, Senior Research Project Manager, Microsoft Research Connections

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