Top PhD students gather at Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum 2016


By Lily Sun, Research Program Manager, Microsoft Research Asia

Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum

Since its inception in 1998, Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) has anointed nearly 400 top researchers with the coveted honor of “Microsoft Research Fellow.” Some of them recently returned to Beijing, sharing their insights and best practices at the inaugural Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum, held earlier this year.


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Hailing from Australia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, more than 30 past and current fellows convened for two days of talks on artificial intelligence and other advanced research. Also present as guests of this highly select group were the latest junior PhD students interviewing to become MSRA fellows for 2017.

“Not only did we explore state-of-the-art research, I was able to share my own research and make friends with other PhD students from different backgrounds,” noted one attendee. “Getting career advice from such accomplished researchers was very helpful.”

Talks on advanced research and technology

Wei-Ying Ma, Assistant Managing Director of MSRA, welcomed students with a brilliant talk on the “Era of Artificial Intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Wei-Ying pointed out that the rapid development of artificial intelligence has brought about unprecedented opportunities along with profound new challenges.

Following Wei-Ying’s talk, six researchers highlighted the latest breakthroughs underpinning current AI research: speech recognition, urban computing, wireless networks, video processing, deep learning and graphics.

Wei-Ying Ma presents at Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum

Wei-Ying Ma – Assistant Managing Director of MSRA opens PhD Forum with his talk on the “Era of Artificial Intelligence and the Fourth Industrial Revolution”

Jumpstarting a research career

On Day 2, students received a special invitation to explore the newly released Microsoft Academic Preview along with tips to help jumpstart their research career. Microsoft Academic is an online destination that helps researchers stay abreast of developments, discover new ideas, and collaborate with others in the academic community.

A panel discussion “Turning Ideas into Reality” introduced students to the process of converting research discoveries into marketable products. Creating something new with the potential to improve lives and empower people seemed to resonate strongly with many of the students.

“I am always curious how fundamental research can impact people’s life and what it’s like to work in an industry lab,” said Mengyi Liu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “Their insights and sharing opened my eyes and inspired me in my future career planning.”

Tim Pan presents at Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum

Tim Pan, Senior director of MSRA Outreach (upper-left) chaired the panel discussion; Thomas Moscibroda, Dongmei Zhang, Jonathan Tien (upper-right) were panelists for the session

Students showcase their research

The forum concluded with student-led sessions explaining their own research, prompting many great discussions.

Valerio Terragi presents at Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum

Valerio Terragi – PhD student from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology gave a talk on “Effective regression testing of concurrent programs”

What’s most rewarding to me is hearing back from students, who were especially appreciative of the opportunity to learn from and connect with others.  I am very proud to have organized the first MSRA PhD forum for top PhD students and look forward to hosting another one next year.

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