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Supporting Advances Throughout the Sciences

Advances in computer science don’t just benefit computing. They play a growing role in helping scientists in all fields make new contributions, facilitating discovery and advancing the state of the art in everything from health care to education to the environment, while also addressing some of society’s most pressing challenges. Since 1998, Microsoft Research Connections has led the organization’s collaborative projects with leading scientists and researchers in academia, government, and industry to apply the latest innovations in software to scientific challenges in other fields. The division also creates open tools, technologies, and services to support every stage of the research process. It also supports the aspirations and potential of early-career researchers and promising young scientists around the world through internships, scholarships, and awards. Below is a sampling of how Microsoft researchers and groups are engaging with the broader scientific community:

Worldwide Collaboration

Microsoft Research collaborates with medical researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; the University of Washington; and the University of Oxford to design an effective vaccine for HIV/AIDS, in which techniques for machine learning are used to identify the most vulnerable parts within the immune system. Researchers from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico collaborate with Microsoft Research on a project to use computer-vision technology to improve quality control in the food industry — a key part of the Latin American economy.

In the Swiss Experiment, an international collaboration, scientists are using Web-based tools developed by Microsoft researchers to view huge quantities of environmental-sensor data more efficiently and in richer detail than ever.

Microsoft Research Asia’s eHeritage program works with academic partners throughout the region to apply the latest technologies to aid the preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of cultural and natural heritage for research, education and protection. The program has funded more than 10 research proposals over the past several years, from universities such as the University of Queensland in Australia and the University of Tokyo.

In India, Microsoft teams with the Molecular Biophysics Unit at the Indian Institute of Science on a project called From Genomics to Function. Identifying a number of target organisms, such as pathogens, that play a key role in the lives of humans, researchers are using computers to learn more about how the organisms’ genes relate to their functions.

Researchers at the University of Queensland and a consortium of government, academic, community, and environmental groups collaborate with Microsoft Research on the Health-e-Waterways project, which is developing data-management tools to help water-resource managers to react to changes in water quality, quantity, and aquatic species.

Microsoft has also established more than 30 joint research institutes to support innovative research projects. For example, Microsoft Research opened three in Europe: the University of Trento Centre for Computational and Systems Biology, which uses programming language theory to design new computational tools for biology; the Microsoft Research-INRIA Joint Centre, which focuses on longterm research into formal methods and computing security; and the BSC-Microsoft Research Centre in Barcelona, which focuses on the design and interaction of next-generation processors.

Other global joint research institutes include the Games for Learning Institute at New York University, which seeks ways to use computer gaming to improve instruction in science, math, literacy, and other academic disciplines. We also spearhead Microsoft’s academic multi-core relations through the Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers, a joint activity between Microsoft and Intel that supports client multi-core research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of California at Berkeley.

The Microsoft Institute for Japanese Academic Research Collaboration is enabling faculty and students in one of the world’s leading economies to combine their tradition of technological development and product innovation with Microsoft’s computer-science expertise.

Investing in People

Microsoft operates the largest Ph.D. internship program in the information technology industry. Each year, nearly 1,000 top computer-science students have the opportunity to work at one of Microsoft Research’s locations around the world. A variety of Ph.D. fellowship and scholarship programs have benefited hundreds of students worldwide over the past decade. In 2008, Microsoft awarded scholarships to nearly 80 Ph.D. students, including 10 through our Graduate Women’s Scholarship program. We support young computer scientists through an assortment of summer schools, student clubs, visiting professorships and awards. Microsoft Research runs numerous academic conferences and workshops where students and university faculty members can interact and exchange ideas with top computer-science researchers in academia, government, and industry. In 2000, the first Microsoft Research Faculty Summit drew 150 participants; since then, more than 25,000 scientists, academic researchers, faculty members, and students have attended Microsoft Research-sponsored summits, conferences, and workshops held in Asia, India, the United Kingdom, and Latin America.

Microsoft Research Connections: