Microsoft Research Lab – Asia

Microsoft Research Lab – Asia

Established 1998

Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum 2017 fuels young talents

October 11, 2017

Lily Sun, Research Program Manager

During September 19-20, 2017, Microsoft Research Asia held a two-day PhD Forum event for past and future Fellows. This year’s event was packed with scientific and training elements, a fireside chat on career development, and plenty of networking opportunities.

The more than 30 PhD Fellows and nomination award winners that were invited to this special event also presented their research achievements in AI from the past year, sharing learning and insights with the collected researchers.

This forum provided the young talents a unique opportunity to exchange ideas, gain exposure and learn from each other. Said one attendee, “Getting to know such outstanding peers is one of the most precious and distinctive perks offered by Microsoft Research Asia Fellowship program, and it will positively impact my future research career.”

Microsoft Research Asia PhD Forum 2017 Group photo

Here are some highlights from the sessions:

In the opening, professor Andrew Yao (China’s only Turing Award winner) shared insights on the path to impactful research. He encouraged attendees to “Keep your scientific curiosity and desire to do great things; prepare yourself by doing research in diverse areas; recognize opportunities and take risks.” Professor Yao peppered his talk with stories about scientific giants in the field, as well as stories from his own path from a physicist to a computer science theorist and quantum scientist. “Professor Yao is a role model for us, as a humble, life-long student in his field,” said Yueqi Duan, a participant from Tsinghua University.

Dr. Baining Guo (right), assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, chaired a Fireside Chat with professor Andrew Yao (Left).

Research talks and a poster session let participants share their latest advances. Nine researchers provided insightful talks on multimedia, computer vision, graphics, machine learning, data mining, social computing, human-computer interaction, systems and software analytics. Particularly notable was that more than half of the Microsoft Research Asia participants were former Fellows, which made the event feel more like a Fellow family reunion than a scientific meeting. The science fair concluded with student-led poster sessions explaining their own research, prompting many fruitful discussions.

In the poster session, Seungryong Kim (left) from Yonsei University showed his work published on ICCV, 2017.

Professor Koji Yatani of the University of Tokyo, who was a Microsoft Research Asia researcher with internship experience in Microsoft Research Labs in both Redmond and Cambridge, advised the young scientists to try to do research that differentiates them. Dr. Ying Yan, a Microsoft Research Asia researcher, echoed professor Yatani’s points: “Today, the engineering experience in the Bing team turns out to be more than helpful when I work with product teams on technology transfer,“ she said. Dr. Yan also suggested the students focus on one specific topic and go deep in the first stage of their career, and then try to do broader research later in their careers.

Dr. Ying Yan, lead researcher of Microsoft Research Asia (left), and professor Koji Yatani (right) from the University of Tokyo sharing their suggestions on career development.

The participants at the event appreciated this opportunity to get inspired, learn and expand their connections. I believe this forum, with its high-quality content, will have a long-lasting impact on these promising young scientists. Moreover, I sincerely look forward to this young generation making contributions with significant research.