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Speakers and Abstracts

Latin American Faculty Summit 2014
May 7–9, 2014 | Viña del Mar, Chile

Event co-chairs

Jaime PuenteJaime Puente

Bio: Jaime Puente is a director at Microsoft Research, responsible for engagements in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has been a key contributor to the establishment and operation of two Virtual Research Institutes in Latin America and the Caribbean: the Microsoft Research–FAPESP Institute for ICT Research and the Latin American and Caribbean Collaborative ICT Research Federation (LACCIR). Since 2012, Jaime has chaired the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship program, which identifies, honors, and supports early-career computing researchers who have the potential to make significant advances in the state of the art.

Jaime was a Fulbright Scholar who earned a master’s in computer engineering from Iowa State University, an MBA and an electronics engineering degree from Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Ecuador, and an Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) post-master’s degree from NOVA Southeastern University in Florida. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences at NOVA Southeastern University. His main research interests concern human-computer interactions and the pervasive integration of digital technologies in education. Prior to joining Microsoft Research in January 2003, Jaime worked for Commerce One, a pioneering business-to-business e-commerce company, as a technical project manager, and before that, he spent 13 years as a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at ESPOL.

Evelyne ViegasEvelyne Viegas

Bio: Evelyne Viegas is the Director of Semantic Computing at Microsoft Research, based in Redmond, Washington, United States. Semantic computing is about interacting with data in rich, safe, and semantically meaningful ways, to create the path from data to information, knowledge, and intelligence. In her current role, Evelyne is building initiatives that focus on information seen as an enabler of innovation, working in partnership with universities and government agencies worldwide. In particular, she is creating programs related to computational intelligence research to drive open innovation and agile experimentation via cloud-based services, as well as projects to advance the state of the art in machine learning, knowledge representation, and reasoning under uncertainty at web scale.

Prior to her present role, Evelyne worked as a technical lead at Microsoft delivering Natural Language Processing components to projects for MSN, Office, and Windows. Before Microsoft, and after completing her Ph.D. in France, she worked as a Principal Investigator at the Computing Research Laboratory in New Mexico on an ontology-based Machine Translation project. Evelyne serves on international editorial, program, and award committees.

DemoFest chair

Michael ZyskowskiMichael Zyskowski

Bio: Michael Zyskowski is a lead program manager in Microsoft Research, leading engineering incubation projects that adopt state of the art technologies for cross-discipline applied domain solutions. He is currently responsible for CodaLab, an open source platform for Machine Learning competitions and experimentation, and Node Atlas, an iterative visual search interface for computational ecology.

Prior to Microsoft Research, Mike spent many years as a developer for the core simulation engine inside Microsoft Flight Simulator, Combat Flight Simulator, and ESP. He has always straddled the developer/program manager role, as he likes to wear multiple hats and play the role of architect, designer, manager, and developer on every project in which he participates.

Event host

Oliver FlögelOliver Flögel

Bio: Oliver is the new Microsoft Chile General Manager since April 2014 and an investor, advisor, and board member to different Chilean startups as a founding partner of InverSur, a VC fund focused on investing in early stage ICT companies. Before launching the fund, he was Executive Secretary for Digital Development for the Government of Chile, a position he took after a 15-year career at Telefónica Group. At Telefonica, he led multiple projects including the IPO of Telefónica Móviles, and the acquisition of mobile operations in Brazil and Mexico. He became GM of the Chilean mobile operator in 2003, and GM of the entire Chilean operation in 2009, successfully merging the fixed and mobile business under the Movistar brand.


P. AnandanP. Anandan

Presentation title: Transforming Education Through Technology

Abstract: Until recently, education has been one of the few aspects of our lives that has not been dramatically changed through technology. Although we use computers, the Internet, and digital content, the fundamental process of teaching and learning in a classroom lecture setting has more or less been the same for several centuries. However, thanks to a combination of factors, we are on the threshold of a dramatic transformation of the entire pedagogical process. With the advent of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCS) and other emerging paradigms, we are seeing the focus shift away from the classroom towards the individual student. In this talk, I will discuss this transformation, show some examples on new technologies that can enable the transformation, and describe our efforts in India to transform technical higher education via technology.

Bio: P. Anandan is the managing director of Microsoft Research India. He was awarded the title of Distinguished Scientist in 2010 in recognition of his contributions to Microsoft and the research community. Microsoft Research India, which began operating in January 2005, conducts basic research in computing and engineering sciences relevant to Microsoft Corp.’s business and the global IT community, with a special focus on algorithms, cryptography, security, mobility, networks and systems, multilingual systems, software engineering, machine learning, computer vision, graphics and visualization, and the role of technology in socioeconomic development. Since June 1997, before being named managing director of Microsoft Research India, Anandan was a senior researcher at Microsoft Research headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where he built one of the world’s strongest research teams in computer vision and video processing. During that time, he also served as an ambassador for the Microsoft Research University Relations program in India. Through repeat visits to India’s leading institutions of higher learning, Anandan helped develop strong relationships between Indian universities and Microsoft Research. He has also represented Microsoft in meetings with the government of India to emphasize the company’s commitment to research and development. He was part of the working group constituted by the 12th Planning Commission to make recommendations on India's Higher Education Policy. Anandan continues Microsoft Research’s ongoing relationships with the government and academic communities in his new role.

Before joining Microsoft, Anandan was an assistant professor of computer science for four years at Yale University, where he founded the computer vision group. Following this, he was a research manager at Sarnoff Corp. His group developed state-of-the-art video stabilization technology and systems for ground and airborne video surveillance. Over two decades, his research work has resulted in numerous patents, academic papers and recognition in the form of several awards in computer vision. During a research career that has spanned two decades, Anandan has done pioneering research in video motion analysis and is recognized for his fundamental contributions in the area of optical flow, motion estimation, video mosaicking and 3-D scene analysis. Anandan holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which presented him with a Distinguished Alumni award in 2006. He also attended the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where he received his master of science in computer science, and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, where he earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering. He received the Distinguished Alumni award from IIT Madras in 2010, and was also inducted into the "Hall of Computing" by the University of Nebraska in 2010. Anandan is currently on the Board of Governors of IIIT Delhi and IIT Madras.

Nikos AthanasisNikos Athanasis

Presentation title: Wildfire Cloud Computing: A Web GIS Perspective

Abstract: Being able to predict where, when and how a fire is most likely to occur and spread is vital during wildfire seasons across the globe. Thus, wildfire management requires large volumes of data that change continuously over time and space, creating both the need and the opportunity to automate the tasks. In fire emergency situations with high workloads, Cloud Computing has the potential to provide the means for high availability, high throughput and high accessibility before, when and after a disaster strikes; especially, if compared to “on-premises” alternatives. A research project called AEGIS is currently under implementation in Greece with the development of a Web Geographic Information System (GIS) as a cost-effective, easy-to-use forest fire prevention and management platform, based on Cloud IT. Similar wildfire and risk management systems can be designed for different areas and in a larger spatial context (e.g. regions and countries).

Bio: Nikos Athanasis is Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Greece. He has a B.S. degree in Computer Science and an M.Sc. diploma in Information Systems and Software Engineering, both from the University of Crete, Greece. He holds a Ph.D. in Geo-Informatics from the University of the Aegean. His main research interests include cloud computing, geo-informatics in the web (Web GIS), and semantic web technologies.

Tanya Berger-WolfTanya Berger-Wolf

Presentation title: Technology for Research: Methods for Monitoring Species Migration

Abstract: Methods of identifying and tracking different types of wildlife. In this period of climate upheaval, there are numerous changes in numbers of animals as well as where they are located. Each panelist uses different methodologies for doing species tracking—from camera traps and machine learning to citizen science. They also track different types of animals across South America, North America, Europe, and Africa. Not only can they interact with one another, their experiences can be discussed for applicability for other domains of research.

Bio: Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she heads the Computational Population Biology Lab. Her research interests are in applications of computational techniques to problems in ecology, from genetics to social interactions. She has published over 60 papers and and given numerous invited talks on the subject. As part of her research, she gets to fly in a super-light airplane over a nature preserve in Kenya, taking a hyper-stereo video of zebra populations.

Dr. Berger-Wolf received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2002. After spending some time as a postdoctoral fellow working in computational phylogenetics and doing research in computational epidemiology, she returned to Illinois. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring, including the US National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2008 and the UIC Mentor of the Year (2009) and Graduate Mentor (2012) awards.

Judith BishopJudith Bishop

Abstract: We are experiencing a technology shift: powerful and easy-to-use mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent than traditional PCs and laptops. Mobile devices are going to be the first and possibly the only computing devices which virtually all people will own and carry with them at all times. In this workshop, participants will learn about developing software directly on their mobile devices. We will use TouchDevelop, a modern software development environment that embraces this new reality, instead of relying on legacy development models built around PCs. TouchDevelop comes with a typed, structured programming language that uses a touchscreen as the input device to author code. Access to the cloud, flexible user interfaces, and access to sensors such as accelerometers and GPS are easily available. TouchDevelop is available as a web app on Windows tablets, iOS, Android, Windows PCs and Macs, and as a native app on Windows and Android phones.

Bio: Judith Bishop is Director of Computer Science at Microsoft Research where she works with researchers in Redmond, amplifying their projects for use in universities. Her recent projects have been TryF#, TouchDevelop, and Code Hunt. She also started the Software Engineering Innovation Foundation, which encourages and supports academics worldwide to engage with Microsoft research. She received her PhD from the University of Southampton and was a professor in South Africa for many years. She has over 100 papers on languages and software engineering is well known for her books on programming languages, which are also available in Spanish.

Robert BrakenridgeRobert Brakenridge

Presentation title: Towards a Global Flood Partnership: GeoSUR/Flood Observatory Collaboration for Flood Alerts and Hazard Assessment

Abstract: For many years, an international consortium of seismic monitoring stations has provided public alerts of large earthquake magnitudes and epicenters. Thus, we know immediately when an earthquake has struck Haiti. In contrast, and even though major floods cause larger damage and casualties, ground-based data for providing notice and measurements are not shared or do not exist. The Global Flood Partnership was formed to address the urgent need for accurate information as flood disasters occur and also a consistent record. Satellite remote sensors survey the Earth every day; many provide immediate “near real time” information. The challenge is how to translate such sensor data into prompt flood detection, measurement, and mapping, and how to disseminate such information for maximum utility. An ongoing collaboration between the Dartmouth Flood Observatory and GeoSUR (a regional initiative to integrate and disseminate spatial data in Latin America and the Caribbean) provide an example of how remote sensing processing systems can be harnessed to provide actionable information during large flood events.

Bio: Dr. Robert Brakenridge is a Senior Research Scientist at the University of Colorado. He founded the Flood Observatory in 1993 at Dartmouth College; it moved with him to the University of Colorado in 2010. The Observatory conducts space-based monitoring of surface water changes for humanitarian, research, and water management applications. It has acquired and is preserving for public use a digital map record of the Earth’s changing surface water, including changes related to floods, droughts, wetlands, shorelines, lakes, and reservoir management. The Observatory monitors such changes in near real time, so that the resulting information has maximum utility to the disaster response community.

Research collaborators in the development of the Observatory and its capabilities (now extending to remotely sensed discharge measurements) are: S. V. Nghiem, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, T. De Groeve, Joint Research Centre of the EC, and F. Policelli and D. Slayback, NASA-Goddard. Research assistant staffing has benefitted from many students, sometimes as volunteers. Funding is through project-related contracts from NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, the World Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America and other sources. The Flood Observatory actively seeks new projects that are compatible with its mission. It is currently working closely with the UN World Food Programme to improve its response capabilities for flood events.

Hernan ChaimovichHernan Chaimovich

Bio: Brazilian, born in Santiago, Chile, 1939. Biochemist, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas e Farmacéuticas, Univ de Chile (UCh ), 1962; Privat Dozent, UCh, 1968; Full Professor, Institute of Chemistry, Univ São Paulo ( IQUSP ), 1984.

Lines of research: Biochemistry, with emphasis on Physical Organic Chemistry and Biomimetic Systems, in particular micelle and vesicle structure and applications, micellar, and enzyme catalysis. Scientific information under Chaimovich, H.

Chairman, Department of Biochemistry, IQUSP, 1985–89 , 1994–96; Coordinator , Bachelor of Molecular Sciences, USP, 1990–94; President of the Brazilian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, SBBq, 1994–1996; Research Chancellor, USP, 1997–2001; Director, IQUSP, 2002–06; Deputy Director, Institute of Advanced Studies, USP, 2006–2009. Vice President of the International Council for Science, ICSU, 2005–2008); Co-Chair of the Inter-American Network of Academies of Science, IANAS, 2004–2010); Member of National Council of Science and Technology, CCT, 2007 to date; Vice-President, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, ABC, 2007 to date.

Member of the Academies of Science of Brazil, The Developing World (TWAS), Latin America (ACAL) and São Paulo, Brazil (ACIESP). Corresponding Member of the Academies of Science of Chile and Venezuela. Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS / USA).

Grand Cross of the National Order of Scientific Merit , the Presidency, Brazil; Medal Butantan Institute, São Paulo, Brazil, Commandeur dans l' Ordre des Palmes Académiques, France; Doctor Honoris Causa, Univ. de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile.

Surajit ChaudhuriSurajit Chaudhuri

Presentation title: Big Data and Enterprise Analytics

Abstract: In this talk, I will describe the key secular trends that characterize the field of Big Data with respect to enterprise analytics. I will describe some of the open challenges for enterprise analytics in the context of Big Data. Although some of these problems are not new, their importance is amplified by Big Data. As an example, we will discuss the task of data exploration and leveraging unstructured data for enterprise analytics.

Bio: Surajit Chaudhuri is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research and the Managing Director of XCG, a MSR lab that focuses on big bet projects in data platform & analytics, cloud systems, security & crypto, and hardware-software co-design. He also serves on the Senior Leadership Team of the President of Microsoft’s Server and Tools division. His current areas of interest are enterprise data analytics, self-manageability and cloud database services. Working with his colleagues in Microsoft Research, he helped incorporate the Index Tuning Wizard (and subsequently Database Engine Tuning Advisor) and data cleaning technology into Microsoft SQL Server. Recently, he started a project on “Bing-Enabled Data Services” with the goal of leveraging Bing’s unique Data assets for Microsoft’s enterprise products and services. Surajit is an ACM Fellow, a recipient of the ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, ACM SIGMOD Contributions Award, a VLDB 10 year Best Paper Award, and an IEEE Data Engineering Influential Paper Award. Surajit received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1992.

Juan Cortés

Juan CortésPresentation title: ALMA data visualization: a 3D view of the Cool Universe

Abstract: The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an aperture synthesis telescope that will consist of 66 state-of-art antennas arranged in a series of different configurations. It operates over a broad range of observing frequencies in the millimeter and submillimeter regime. Its unique capabilities make of it the most powerful ground-based radio observatory, offering an unparalleled "three-dimensional" view of the so-called “cool universe.” Together with its unprecedented capabilities, ALMA offers new challenges for the development of data reduction techniques, and efficient data visualization and data mining. Here we present an overview of the ALMA observatory and its capabilities. The current state of ALMA data model, data reduction and data visualization is explained. Finally, we present an overview of the forthcoming challenges in data reduction, data visualization and mining that ALMA will face considering its continuously growing capabilities.

Bio: Juan Rodrigo Cortés is Ph.D. in Astronomy (U. de Chile, 2005), and M.Sc. (Yale University, 2002). After graduation until 2008, he worked as post-doctoral researcher and support astronomer for the Chilean astronomical community in the Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE), for the National Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and Universidad de Chile.

Dr. Cortés is associated scientist for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory of USA (NRAO), and works as Science Operation Astronomer in the Atacama Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), where he works on the development of the project tracking system and life-cycle, as well as ALMA data reduction, technical assessor, and the study of weather statistics and the impact of the Altiplanic winter in ALMA operations. His research interest includes galaxy evolution in cluster of galaxies, galaxy mergers and interaction, stellar and ism kinematics of galaxies, as well as computational astronomy. Dr. Cortés also participates actively in outreach talks to the community and it is the editor of the NRAO newsletter for Chile.

Rosiane de FreitasRosiane de Freitas

Presentation title: Optimization of Forest Big Data: estimating tropical forest carbon stocks using 3D high-resolution remote sensing for large scale mapping

Abstract: Forests sequester and store more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem and are an important means to slow climate change. The Amazon forest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest encompassing up to 5,500,000 square kilometers. We are interested in estimating carbon stocks by means of extrapolation and spatialization based on forest inventory using remote sensing LiDAR (Light Detecting and Ranging) technology to determine a set of representative trees—the widest (dominant) and the highest (emerging)—through the application of pattern recognition, graph theory, image retrieval, and combinatorial optimization techniques.

This work is being undertaken in partnership among ICOMP/UFAM (Institute of Computing of the Federal University of Amazonas, Brazil), INPA (the Brazilian National Institute of Amazonian Research), and the University of California, Berkeley.

Bio: Rosiane de Freitas is a computer scientist, Brazilian professor researcher at Institute of Computing of the Federal University of Amazonas (IComp/UFAM), with a PhD in Computer Science and Systems Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and UNICAMP, Brazil. Developing theoretical and applied research, in this case taking advantage of the Amazon scenario and of the collaboration with the Brazilian National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) involving forest dynamics, besides acting in the education of Brazilian teachers of fundamental and high school education, training, and organization of technological and programming scientific contests, and mainly acting in graduate and undergraduate courses in computer science, computer engineering, and information systems, as well as supervising theses and dissertations in the Master and Doctoral Program in Informatics of IComp/UFAM, and also currently co-adviser in the graduate programs of other universities. With expertise in combinatorial optimization and scheduling theory, acting on the following subjects: mathematical programming, exact and approximate algorithms, computational complexity, and graph theory, also involving bioinformatics, parallel and distributed systems, networks, software engineering and operations research in general, with emphasis on planning and control of production, mobility, telecommunications, forest dynamics and web applications. Partners with renowned researchers and institutions around the world, such as University of California at Berkeley (USA), Université Paris 13 (France), Istanbul Technical University (Turkey), Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina), Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira (Colombia), UFRJ and UFF (Brazil), and coordinates science, programming and technical contests, and also assisting in advancing the careers and goals of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), where is involved since the first edition in the "International Women Hackaton", sponsored by Microsoft Research Connections and international women scientific associations. Member of major Brazilian and international scientific societies, reviewer for qualified journals and currently guest editor for a special issue of the Discrete Applied Mathematics journal.

Peli de HalleuxPeli de Halleux

Abstract: The practical part of this workshop will cover the TouchDevelop environment: the program management, the code editor, the runtime environment, the debugger, the unit testing framework. In an interactive exercise, we will develop a series of applications in TouchDevelop. The developed applications will illustrate the wide range of possibilities on mobile devices, including: games with graphics and sounds, and also a cloud-based voting application for multiple users. We will discuss opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning in the context of our proposed programming environment and language for mobile devices. Since the first release in April 2011, TouchDevelop for Windows Phone has been downloaded more than 400,000 times, and over 190,000 registered users have published more than 108,000 scripts and exported over 950 apps to the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store.

Bio: Jonathan "Peli" de Halleux is actively working on TouchDevelop from Microsoft Research. He also teaches computer science at the Rainier Beach High School every morning, as part of the TEALS program. Peli had the chance to be featured in an article of the New York Times about TEALS.

Fernando DiazFernando Diaz

Presentation title: Crisis Informatics: An Information Retrieval Perspective

Abstract: Over more than 50 years, information retrieval research has established a set of design principles which have been used to build search engines for collections of legal documents, news archives, and even the web. Crisis informatics refers to the study and development of information access tools for support during unexpected crisis events such as natural disasters and other human tragedies. These events often undermine many of the assumptions made in information retrieval research, resulting in system underperformance and catastrophic failure. In this talk, I will be presenting recent work in text summarization during crisis events. I will focus on defining an experimental methodology and evaluation specific to crisis informatics. Under these experimental conditions, I will present algorithms and architectures uniquely suited to support text summarization.

Joint work with Javed Aslam, Matthew Ekstrand-Abueg, Qi Guo, Virgil Pavlu, Tetsuya Sakai, and Elad Yom-Tov.

Bio: Fernando Diaz is a researcher at Microsoft. His primary research interest is formal information retrieval models and his research experience includes distributed information retrieval approaches to web search, interaction logging and modeling, interactive and faceted retrieval, mining of temporal patterns from news and query logs, cross-lingual information retrieval, graph-based retrieval methods, and synthesizing information from multiple corpora. Fernando received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2008. His work on federation won the best paper awards at the WSDM 2009, SIGIR 2009, and ECIR 2011 conferences. His work on crisis informatics has received awards at SIGIR 2011 and ISCRAM 2013. He is a co-organizer of the Temporal Summarization track and Web track at TREC 2013 and WSDM 2014.

Steven DruckerSteven Drucker

Presentation title: Data Visualization and Education

Abstract: Exploratory Visualization is all about finding insight while Data Presentations are about communicating insight. As such, while these have some overlap, there are different starting points and different needs in these processes.

We’ll show some overlapping areas in interactive data visualization and explore how they can be used in an educational setting to help visually communicate ideas in engaging and effective ways. Examples and demos will be shown.

Bio: Dr. Steven M. Drucker is a principal researcher in the Visualization and Interaction group at Microsoft Research focusing on human computer interaction for dealing with large amounts of information. He is also an affiliate professor at the University of Washington Computer Science and Engineering Department. Before coming to Microsoft, he received his Ph.D. from the Computer Graphics and Animation Group at the MIT Media Lab in May 1994, a M.S from the AI Lab at MIT in 1989, and an ScB in Neurosciences from Brown University in 1984.

He has demonstrated his work on stage with Bill Gates at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES); shipped software on the web for gathering and acting on information collected on the web; was written up in the New York Times; filed over 120 patents; and published papers on technologies as diverse as exploratory search, information visualization, multi-user environments, online social interaction, hypermedia research, human and robot perceptual capabilities, robot learning, parallel computer graphics, spectator oriented gaming, and human interfaces for camera control.

Pablo FigueroaPablo Figueroa

Bio: Dr. Pablo Figueroa is an associate professor at Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. His areas of interest are mixed reality, development tools for mixed reality, and videogames development. He is the director of Proyecto DAVID, a three and one-half year, joint effort to push the videogame industry in Colombia.

Victor M. GonzálezVíctor M. González

Bio: Víctor M. González is a Professor and Head of the Department of Computer Science at Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM) in Mexico City. Dr. González is an applied computer scientist designing and studying the use, adoption and adaptation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in a variety of contexts, including office workplaces, homes, urban communities and public spaces. From 2006 to 2011, Dr. González was a Senior Research Fellow of CRITO at the University of California, Irvine. He was also a Visiting Fellow at the University of Manchester. He received a Ph.D. and Master degrees in Information and Computer Science from the UC Irvine and a Master degree in Information Systems from the University of Essex, United Kingdom. He is a member of IEEE, ACM SIGCHI and was vice-president of SIG-CHI Mexican Chapter (2008–2010). Dr. Gonzalez is Member (Level 1) of the National System of Researchers of the National Mexican Science Council (CONACYT). He is also member of CONACYT’s Thematic Network on Information and Communication Technologies. He is former president of the Mexican Computer Science Society (SMCC).

Jonathan GrudinJonathan Grudin

Presentation title: Fast History and Innovation

Abstract: Clayton Christenson used the “fast history” of our field to discover the phenomena described in “The Innovator’s Dilemma.” Twenty years later, our history has not slowed down. I will discuss several trajectories and ways of visualizing and understanding the underlying forces. These provide an approach to anticipating the nature and pace of innovation in education and other areas. I will discuss work from Microsoft and Microsoft Research that can contribute, as well as areas that invite exploration.

Bio: Jonathan Grudin is a principal researcher in the Natural Interfaces group at Microsoft. Prior to joining Microsoft 15 years ago, he was Professor of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. In recent years he has studied enterprise adoption of new communication and collaboration technologies, and technology use in primary and secondary education. He has been active in the ACM Computer-Human Interaction and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work groups since their emergence in the 1980s. He is an ACM Fellow, member of the SIGCHI Academy, and the most prolific online blogger for ACM Interactions magazine, for which he edited and often wrote a history column for eight years.

Eduardo HardyEduardo Hardy

Presentation title: ALMA, Chile, and the new challenges facing astronomy at the beginning of the 21st Century

Abstract: “Our vision of the Universe has changed radically over the last few years. New transformational instruments, such as ALMA, are making possible the exploration of this new Universe while Chile is fast becoming the center of the astronomy world with most new astronomy projects already located or to be located there.

This presentation will briefly trace the evolution of astronomy and will provide a description of the main important recent science issues for which these new instruments are being built, with emphasis on the conceptual challenges facing today’s astrophysicist, including the study of star formation, normal and dark matter, dark energy, inflation, etc. I will also describe some technical observational challenges, including the handling of the immense output of data coming out of ALMA and other instruments as well as the use of computational visualizations and machine learning techniques. Is it true that “investing in science pays off”?

Bio: Dr. Eduardo Hardy was born in Argentina, grew up in Chile and received his post-graduate education in the US where he was a Carnegie Fellow. He spent most of his academic career in Canada where for twenty-one years he was a professor of astrophysics at Université Laval, in Québec city. While in Canada he was involved in the planning and operation of the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea and the planning by Canada of the Gemini telescopes located on Mauna Kea and on Cerro Pachón, Chile. He returned to Chile 16 years ago to help set up the ALMA project for North America and presently occupies the positions of North America representative in ALMA (Associated Universities Inc.) and Chile director of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the organization responsible for the North America side of the ALMA construction and operation.

Hardy’s science interests range from Cosmology to the study of Stellar Populations in galaxies and he is credited, together with Allan Sandage, for the discovery of “galactic “cannibalisms” in cluster galaxies. He is also an adjoint professor at the Astronomy Dept. of the University of Chile.

Valeria HerskovicValeria Herskovic

Presentation title: Mobile computing in urban emergencies: experiences in the design of applications for firefighters

Abstract: Communication support is a serious limitation for Chilean firefighters dealing with emergency situations, as the limited number of radio channels and the lack of digital information force them to improvise during emergency response processes. This talk will summarize several research initiatives we have undertaken to understand firefighters' work and develop mobile and collaborative applications to support it, as well as the challenges and opportunities we have discovered in working in this domain.

Bio: Valeria Herskovic is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Computer Science of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile since 2010. Previously, she received her B.S., engineering, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chile. Her research interests are in the areas of mobile computing, human-computer interaction, and collaborative systems. She is also the co-founder of WSCCC, a women in computing group in Chile.

Tony HeyTony Hey

Presentation title: Data-Driven Computing

Abstract: The term ubiquitous computing, and the rich research it engenders, has been with us for many years. Today we are seeing the results of that research in our daily lives with our smart phones becoming our necessary partner, smart homes, smart appliances, on-demand entertainment streaming and information at our fingertips. Behind all this is rich integration with computing that is increasingly executed in the cloud. And that execution is dependent on data. This presentation reviews how data lies beneath the “smart” in our devices today and defines some key data-driven research opportunities.

Bio: As vice president in Microsoft Research, Tony Hey is responsible for worldwide university research collaborations with Microsoft researchers. Hey is also responsible for the multidisciplinary eScience Research Group within Microsoft Research. Prior to joining Microsoft, Hey served as director of the U.K.'s e-Science Initiative, managing the government's efforts to build a new scientific infrastructure for collaborative, multidisciplinary, data-intensive research projects. Before leading this initiative, Hey led a research group in the area of parallel computing and was Head of the School of Electronics and Computer Science, and Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Southampton.

Hey is a fellow of the U.K.'s Royal Academy of Engineering and was awarded a CBE for services to science in 2005. He is also a fellow of the British Computer Society, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics, and the U.S. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Tony Hey has written books on particle physics and computing and has a passionate interest in communicating the excitement of science and technology to young people. He has co-authored "popular" books on quantum mechanics and on relativity. 

Marina HirotaMarina Hirota

Presentation title: How e-science can help to investigate tipping points in tropical ecosystems?

Abstract: Terrestrial ecosystems have been undergoing a remarkable combination of disturbances since the beginning of the century. Anomalous extreme events together with land use change are likely to push ecosystems towards unexpected directions. A way of explaining the dynamics of ecosystems in transition may be the theory of multi-stability, picturing forests and savannas as alternative regimes of climate-vegetation systems in the tropics. However, whether multiple states indeed exist and whether we can identify and quantify tipping points of such systems still remain largely unclear. Such questions are the main focus of my current research and may be relevant in addressing adaptation for the future.

Bio: Marina Hirota is an assistant professor of Meteorology at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. She has a very interdisciplinary background build up from a Bachelor degree in Applied Mathematics, a MSc. in Computer Engineering, a PhD in Meteorology and post-doc studies with theoretical ecologists. Such variety defined her current research field in Earth System Sciences, more specifically, trying to understand the processes and interactions involved in biome shifts within tropical zones of the planet, using dynamical system concepts such as resilience, tipping points and hysteresis. Together with collaborators from Brazil and the Netherlands, she has recently got a Microsoft Research grant to strengthen both quantitatively and qualitatively the scientific basis of tipping points in South American tropical ecosystems.

Roberto Hojman Roberto Hojman

Presentation title: Universal Access to Quality Education: Theoretical Model and Empirical Evidence

Abstract: It is shown that even a small amount of learning gaps can have a devastating (and seemingly paradoxical) effect on the academic performance of a student subjected to a standardized test. Conversely, the model reveals that it is possible to achieve significant improvements in academic performance when some of those gaps are properly amended.

A methodology to design adaptive, accurate and reliable assessment instruments to identify, quantify its magnitude and timely remedy the gaps is deployed. Using a carefully managed repository of digital learning objects a customized learning itinerary is defined for each and every student optimizing their recovery time.

Finally, empirical evidence of the impact on learning achievements for various interventions following the described guidelines in massive groups of students from elementary and high school as well as higher education in four Latin American countries, for a wide variety of cultural, geographic, social and economic environments is exhibited.

Bio: Roberto Hojman got his PhD degree in Theoretical Physics from the University of Trieste, Italy. For 20 years his main field of interest was the construction of general relativistic models of galaxies. Gradually he evolved into science management, popularization of science and teaching of Mathematics and Science. He has lead interactive science museums, conceiving and producing 10+ hands-on nationwide exhibits. He was also in charge of several governmental programs to promote science, technology and innovation. Since 2006 he has been exclusively devoted to education and has designed an educational model over Internet based on edge findings on cognitive psychology.

He is the founder and the current VP for R&D of Collaborative Educational Technologies GAL&LEO, a company which now serves more than 1M students in four countries, from 1-12 and HE institutions. He is the author of several mathematical algorithms and computer codes to measure in real-time thoroughly and accurately the level of knowledge of students using an LMS. The aforementioned system automatically suggests them customized learning itineraries using digital learning objects created by him and his professional team on the same platform. The system has already proven very effective on all levels of education, in different environments and countries.

Faisal HossainFaisal Hossain

Presentation title: Delivering Hydrological Information for Community Empowerment: Opportunities and Challenges for the Semi-skilled Consumer

Abstract: Hydrological information about how much water is (or will be) available at any one place and time are vital for making decisions related to water management. However the four billion people living in the developing world typically lacks universal and free access to this information. Today, the many satellites circling the globe as a continuous ‘eye’ on the world’s water, are freely streaming increasing amounts of data at a rate of terra-bytes per day or higher. Taking the perspective of the semi-skilled consumer in the developing world, this talk will address the often-ignored issue, namely: how can massive volumes of water-specific satellite information be delivered to diverse communities around the world in a comprehendible, timely, affordable and impactful way? Given the recent advancements made in computational and information technology, it is time to identify the proper technological and business models required to enable this empowerment.

Bio: Faisal Hossain is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington. His research interests comprise remote sensing applications, human impacts on water, sustainable water resources engineering, education and outreach. He is the recipient of awards such as NASA New Investigator Award, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Outstanding Research Award, National Association of Environmental Professionals Education Excellence Award, US Fulbright Faculty Award and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Charles Falkenberg Award. Currently he serves as an associate editor for Journal of Hydrometeorology and was recently the lead editor for the water encyclopedia.

Jonathan HuangJonathan Huang

Presentation title: Data Driven Student Feedback For MOOCs: Global Scale Education for the 21st Century

Abstract: In recent years, an increasing number of students have turned to online resources, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs) for learning. But while these online courses give teachers more coverage, student-teacher ratios can often be ten thousand to one or worse. With such ratios, students no longer get the type of feedback they need to really understand the material.

Codewebs is a system that I have been developing which addresses the problem of scalability in providing student feedback for online programming-intensive courses. Codewebs analyzes a massive code corpora of historical student submissions and uses it to provide instant, useful and detailed student feedback to tens of thousands of students in the same course. By relying on a statistical approach, the quality of feedback increases as our system sees more data and the feedback is automatically tailored for each assignment. I will present a novel data driven technique to discover shared "parts" amongst multiple student submission, a problem that is complicated by the fact that there are always many ways to accomplish the same functionality in code. Throughout, I will demonstrate results on Coursera's Machine Learning course, which received over 1 million code submissions in its first run.

Finally, I will highlight the emerging issues of scalability and sustainability of education, why these issues require insight from computer scientists and discuss specific problems in this domain that my future research program will address.

Bio: Jonathan Huang is an NSF Computing Innovation (CI) postdoctoral fellow at the geometric computing group at Stanford University. He completed his Ph.D. in 2011 with the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University where he also received a Master’s degree in 2008. He received his B.S. degree in Mathematics from Stanford University in 2005. His research interests lie primarily in statistical machine learning and reasoning with combinatorially structured data with applications such as analyzing real world education data. His research has resulted in a number of publications in premier machine learning conferences and journals, receiving a paper award in NIPS 2007 for his work on applying group theoretic Fourier analysis to probabilistic reasoning with permutations.

Ashish KapoorAshish Kapoor

Presentation title: Airplanes Aloft as a Sensor Network for Wind Forecasting

Abstract: We explore the feasibility of using commercial aircraft as sensors for observing weather phenomena at a continental scale. We focus specifically on the problem of wind forecasting and explore the use of machine learning and inference methods to harness air and ground speeds reported by aircraft at different locations and altitudes. We validate the learned predictive model with a field study where we release an instrumented high-altitude balloon and compare the predicted trajectory with the sensed winds. The experiments show the promise of using airplane in flight as a large-scale sensor network. Beyond making predictions, we explore the guidance of sensing with value-of-information analyses, where we consider uncertainties and needs of sets of routes and maximize information value in light of the costs of acquiring data from airplanes. The methods can be used to select ideal subsets of planes to serve as sensors and also to evaluate the value of requesting shifts in trajectories of flights for sensing.

Bio: Ashish Kapoor is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, Redmond. His research focuses on machine learning with applications to computer vision, artificial intelligence, affective computing and Computer-Human interaction scenarios. Ashish received a PhD at the MIT Media Lab in 2006 and prior to that graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

Emre KicimanEmre Kiciman

Presentation title: Discussion Graphs: Putting Social Media Analysis in Context

Abstract: Much research has focused on studying complex phenomena through their reflection in social media, from drawing neighborhood boundaries to inferring relationships between medicines and diseases. While it is generally recognized in the social sciences that such studies should be conditioned on gender, time and other confounding factors, few of the studies that attempt to extract information from social media actually condition on such factors due to the difficulty in extracting these factors from naturalistic data and the added complexity of including them in analyses. In this paper, we present a simple framework for specifying and implementing common social media analyses that makes it trivial to inspect and condition on contextual information. Our data—discussion graphs—captures both the structural features of relationships inferred from social media as well as the context of the discussions from which they are derived, such as who is participating in the discussions, when and where the discussions are occurring, and what else is being discussed in conjunction. We implement our framework in DGT, and present case studies on its use. In particular, we show how analyses of neighborhoods and their boundaries based on geo-located social media data can have drastically varying results when conditioned on gender and time.

Bio: Emre Kiciman is a senior researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond. He is broadly interested in using social data to help people find what they want and need; and to this end works on extracting from social media useful models of people's interactions with the world and their consequences. His research includes foundations and infrastructure for better social media analysis, connecting social media to the real world, and social systems engineering. Emre’s previous research interests include JavaScript application monitoring and optimization, as well as improving the reliability of Internet services architectures and operations. Emre received his Ph.D. and M.S. from Stanford University, and his B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from U.C. Berkeley.

Lighon LiLighon Li

Presentation title: Multi-World Testing: Unbiased Offline Evaluation in Contextual Bandits

Abstract: In contextual bandits, one observes the payoff for the chosen arm, but not the others. This counterfactual nature of the payoff leads to the difficulty of using historical data to evaluate a new arm-selection policy: when the new policy chooses an arm different from the one in the data, we simply do not have the payoff signal to do evaluation. The challenge is ubiquitous in many learning-to-act problems such as online advertising and content recommendation. It might appear that the only reliable way to evaluate a new policy's per-round payoff is to run it in the real bandit problem, a process that can be both expensive and slow. In this talk, we show how historical data can be collected properly to enable unbiased offline evaluation of a policy only from the collected data, and demonstrate accuracy and reliability with a case study at Microsoft Bing.

Bio: Lihong Li is a machine-learning researcher at Microsoft Research. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was a Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research. He obtained a PhD degree from Rutgers University, MSc from University of Alberta, and BE from Tsinghua University, all in Computer/Computing Science. His main research interests are in machine learning with interaction, including reinforcement learning, multi-armed bandits, and their numerous applications in the big-data era. He has published over 50 research papers, and won paper awards at ICML'08, WSDM'11, and AISTATS'11. He has served as area chair or senior program committee member at ICML, NIPS, and IJCAI.

Cristhian LópezCristhian López

MSCS Senior Student, developer of the new release of LiveAndes. Expert in cloud computing and web development. Serial entrepreneur since 2011. Founder of Google Developers Group Santiago and enthusiast of the Open Source.

Harmony MabreyHarmony Mabrey

Presentation title: Disaster Response Technology: Leveraging ICT to Advance Whole Community Response

Abstract: Technology is a powerful enabler for whole community responses to natural disaster. Since the Haiti and Chile earthquakes in 2010, the role and capabilities of technology to enable rapid dissemination of vital information have grown exponentially. To visualize how technology has advanced humanitarian response and role it will likely play in the future, we will look at the current state of innovations that were sparked in 2010, examine the potential of emerging technologies, and discuss our strategy to drive the next advancements in response technologies. Included will be a review of TV White Space and Skype low-bandwidth as examples of emerging technologies that are already beginning to deliver key capabilities. We will also present the Humanitarian Toolbox and Connectivity Center as examples of our approach to developing new technology offerings through distributed development and partnerships. Together, responders, communities and private sector organizations will shape the future of humanitarian response.

Bio: Harmony Mabrey is the Sr. Operations Manager for Microsoft Disaster Response. She has managed global operations and partnerships for more than five years, leading cross-company coordination of the Microsoft response to conduct impact assessments, identify opportunities to assist and deliver technology that connects citizens, enables responders, and supports recovery of our customers. Microsoft Disaster Response (@msftresponse) is a citizenship-based program that focuses on delivery of technologies and expertise to address key challenges in times of disaster.

Between disasters, her focus is on increasing preparedness by developing partnerships across the technology industry and with responders to foster impactful technology innovations, operational best practice sharing, and collaboration across "whole community" actors.

Ratul MahajanRatul Mahajan

Presentation title: Accelerating innovation in home technology development using Lab of Things

Abstract: A range of compelling applications in the home, from security to health care to energy reduction, can be enabled by connected devices (for example, sensors). But experimental work on these applications is hampered by two challenges: 1) considerable custom engineering is required to ensure that hardware and software prototypes work robustly; and 2) recruiting and managing more than a handful of homes is difficult and cost-prohibitive. To lower these barriers, Microsoft Research is developing Lab-of-Things@Home (LoT@Home), a communal, research platform. LoT@Home will consist of a large number of geographically distributed homes, each running a common framework for implementing experimental applications. Participating research groups recruit and contribute a small number of homes, and in return, they can run experiments on homes recruited by others. I will describe the design of LoT@Home and what it takes to conduct experiments using it.

Bio: Ratul Mahajan is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington. His research interests include all aspects of networked systems. His current work focuses on smart home technologies, software-defined networks, and network verification, and his past work spans Internet routing and measurements, incentive-compatible protocol design, practical models for wireless networks, and vehicular networks. He has published over 30 papers in top-tier venues such as SIGCOMM, SOSP, MobiCom, and CHI. He is a winner of the ACM SIGCOMM Rising Star award, the William R. Bennett prize, the SIGCOMM best paper award, and Microsoft Research Graduate Fellowship. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Washington (2005) and B.Tech. from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (1999).

Rico MalvarRico Malvar

Presentation title: An Overview of the Microsoft Research Advanced Technology Labs

Abstract: Microsoft Research has as its core mission to advance the state of the art in computer science and related field, and to bring the resulting innovations to Microsoft products and services. To help accelerate the transfer of research results into tangible innovations, Microsoft Research has a set of applied research groups, which we call Advanced Technology Labs (ATL). With four locations in Munich, Cairo, Herzliya, and Rio de Janeiro, the ATL organization has contributed significantly to the development of new products and services, in many cases inspired by local scenarios, but with an ultimate goal of local impact. In this talk we present an overview of the ATLs, our model for collaboration with the core research labs, and engineering groups, and examples of technologies developed by those labs, in particular in the area of cloud analytics from large-scale sensor/telemetry data.

Bio: Henrique (Rico) Malvar is a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and the Chief Scientist for Microsoft Research. He was born and raised in Brazil. Before moving to industry in 1994, he was a professor of electrical engineering at University of Brasília, Brazil. When he joined Microsoft in 1997, Rico started a signal processing group, which developed new technologies such as new media compression formats used in Windows, Xbox, and Office, microphone array processing technologies used in Windows, Tablet PCs, and Xbox Kinect, as well as machine learning technologies for music identification in Windows Media, junk mail filtering in Exchange, and others. The group also developed the first prototype of the RoundTable videoconferencing device. Rico was a key architect for the several media compression formats, such as WMA and HD Photo/JPEG XR, and made key contributions to the popular video format H.264, used by YouTube, Netflix, Adobe Flash, digital TV, and many other applications. Rico received a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986. His technical interests include multimedia signal compression and enhancement, fast algorithms, multi-rate filter banks, and multi-resolution and wavelet transforms. He has over 160 publications and over 115 issued patents in those areas. He received the Young Scientist Award from the Marconi International Fellowship in 1981, was elected to Fellow of the IEEE in 1997, received the Technical Achievement Award from the IEEE Signal Processing Society in 2002, and was elected a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2012.

Ankur ManiAnkur Mani

Presentation title: Social Mechanisms: Using Peer Pressure to Promote Cooperation

Abstract: Cooperation in a large society of self-interested individuals is notoriously difficult to achieve when the externality of one individual's action is spread thin and wide on the whole society. This leads to the ‘tragedy of the commons’ in which rational action will ultimately make everyone worse-off. Traditional policies to promote cooperation involve Pigouvian taxation or subsidies that make individuals internalize the externality they incur. We introduce a new approach to achieving global cooperation by localizing externalities to one's peers in a social network, thus leveraging the power of peer-pressure to regulate behavior. The mechanism relies on a joint model of externalities and peer-pressure. Surprisingly, this mechanism can require a lower budget to operate than the Pigouvian mechanism, even when accounting for the social cost of peer pressure. Even when the available budget is very low, the social mechanisms achieve greater improvement in the outcome. We report evidence that social mechanism performs better than Pigouvian mechanism in the real world from an experiment targeted to promote physical activity and an experiment to promote energy conservation.

Bio: Ankur Mani is Research Scientist in the Information, Operations and Management Sciences department at the NYU Stern School of Business and a Visiting Scientist at MIT Media Lab. He finished his PhD in Media, Arts and Sciences at MIT in 2013. His Doctoral thesis is titled, "Bilateral Exchanges in Social Networks and the Design of Public Institutions." His research lies at the intersection of several disciplines including, Computer Science, Operation Research, Economics and Sociology. In particular he focusses on analysis and design on networked socio-technical systems. His research has been supported by several awards including the Yahoo Key Scientific Challenges, Martin Family Fellowship and research grants from IBM Research and Natura.

Nina MishraNina Mishra

Presentation title: Samaritan: Assisting Users in Time-Critical Need

Abstract: Examination of mobile search logs reveals that search engines are being used in time-critical situations, often in cases more appropriately handled by emergency services. For instance, we find queries such as ‘how to do CPR on a toddler’ and ‘am I having a stroke’. Search engines today do not provide any specific assistance for users in this state. Content from domains such as Wikipedia and Mayo Clinic are currently favored. Such pages are more suitable in information-seeking settings, and not urgent settings. Leveraging surveys and mobile search logs, we (a) characterize the use of search engines for time-critical situations, and (b) develop predictive models to accurately predict urgent information needs, given a query and a diverse set of features spanning topical, temporal, behavioral, and geospatial attributes. We conclude with a demo showing how our findings can be integrated into the search experience.

Bio: Nina Mishra is currently a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research-Silicon Valley studying data-mining algorithms. Prior to that, she was an Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at the University of Virginia. And before that she held a joint appointment as a researcher at Hewlett-Packard labs and a visiting faculty member at Stanford University.

Michal MoskalMichal Moskal

Abstract: The creation and maintenance of mobile applications is a complex process, involving a set of technologies ranging from an application programming language and integrated development environment (IDE), through the deployment and update models of the various app stores, to a cloud back end that stores user and telemetry data (with its own programming language and a variety of hosting issues). We present the design of a cloud-based integrated development and runtime environment to make the creation of mobile+cloud applications easier for non-expert programmers. By combining an online programmer community, a browser-based IDE, and an app store, we decrease friction in the software engineering of apps through automated source control and dependency management, an open architecture for distributed plugins, and a crowd-sourced collection of crash reports and coverage/profile data. I will illustrate these principles with TouchDevelop, a streamlined, cross-platform, browser-based programming environment. I will describe the design of TouchDevelop and the use of automation at various points to make it easy for the three parties to communicate and give feedback to one another. As we will show through our analysis of three years of deployment of TouchDevelop to hundreds of thousands of users, much of the design can inform other approaches to cloud-based software engineering.

Bio: Michał Moskal works at Microsoft Research in Redmond on software verification, automated theorem proving, and programming languages. While working on his PhD degree at the University of Wrocław in Poland he developed Nemerle (a high-level programming language for the .NET platform) and Fx7 (a satisfiability modulo theories (SMT) solver). In 2008, he joined European Microsoft Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and was instrumental to development of VCC—a state of the art SMT-based verifier for concurrent C programs applied to tens of thousands of lines of industrial C code. Michał continued work on VCC after his 2009 move to Microsoft Research Redmond. In late 2010, Nikolai Tillmann and Michał started TouchDevelop—an effort to create an integrated development environment for writing programs directly on touch-enabled mobile devices (particularly phones and tablets).

Vidya NatampallyVidya Natampally

Presentation title: Use of Technology in Education:

Abstract: Education sector is going through a change worldwide. Technology has enabled students to learn from the best teachers in the world and have access to information at their fingertips. Blended learning, MOOCs, LMS, and so forth, are the buzzwords in the education segment. Many institutions worldwide are experimenting with these technologies to understand what works best for them. Recognizing the importance of use of technology in education, one needs to identify the challenges that each country/region faces and address them locally with the help of technology. It’s important to leverage what is available globally and adapt it to address language, culture, and other aspects of the society. Technology enabled teaching, learning, and monitoring progress brings a new paradigm in pedagogy. It needs participation from government, institutions specifically management, faculty, students, and industry to bring about the change.

Bio: Vidya joined Microsoft Research India in 2006, and is responsible for Microsoft Research India’s external partnership and collaborations. She heads Microsoft Research Connections, which aims to strengthen the computer science research eco-system in India. Vidya works extensively with industry, government and academia both within and outside India. The Microsoft Research Connections team at Microsoft Research India focuses on capacity building, research collaborations, programs to address societal challenges and empower communities with tools and technologies. In addition, the team works with industry to encourage innovation.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Vidya worked with a number of leading IT companies as a communications consultant where she has been instrumental in defining communications and business strategies.

Jim NelsonJim Nelson

Presentation title: A Water Data Sharing Platform to Create Regional and Global Repositories

Abstract: Many regions of the world are limited in various ways as they face the challenges of managing water resources such as drought, flood, water quality, and distribution. Among the greatest of these problems is simply a lack of information that can be used to understand meteorological and hydrological phenomenon so that sound decisions can be made. Barriers to better data management include:

  1. Lack of water information data standards
  2. High cost of hardware and software
  3. Insufficient technical capacity
  4. A culture of not making data publicly available

New standards-based, open source tools and a growing community of scientists willing to make data and software tools for water information available will be described with applications in Latin America. A concept for building on these tools to develop an Ibero American regional water data-sharing repository will be presented.

Bio: Dr. Nelson’s research focuses on hydrology and automated watershed characterization from digital terrain data. He was one of three principal faculty of the Environmental Modeling Research Laboratory (EMRL), which in 2007 formed Aquaveo LLC. He has held a full time faculty appointment in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of BYU since 1996 and teaches courses in computing, surveying, hydrology and hydrologic modeling, and geographic information systems while continuing his research. He has worked extensively in Latin American, leading study abroad activities to conduct student-led projects and research in many countries including Chile, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic.

His research has resulted in the development of the Watershed Modeling System (WMS) that assists engineers in developing hydrologic models from digital elevation, soils, land use, and other electronic sources. His work with WMS has pioneered tools in automated watershed delineation and spatial hydrologic analysis using geographic information systems. WMS has been distributed to government, private, and university institutions in more than 100 countries. Most recently he has worked on funded research from NSF to improve cyber infrastructure for water resources modeling that includes standards-based system for water information collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination.

Andres Neyem

Andres NeyemPresentation title: Explore the Potential of Connected Devices in the Mobile & Embedded Research MakerSpace

Abstract: Advances in mobile and embedded computing are driving a revolutionary change in the way people communicate, interact, and work with each other. The combination of mobile and embedded computing systematically brings on new research trends and questions. Therefore, in order to explore the potential of this combination with our students, we involved in setting up the Mobile & Embedded Research MakerSpace in the Computer Science department at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The aim of this MakerSpace is to create a zone of self-directed learning, providing a laboratory for inquiry-based learning and primarily used for technological experimentation, hardware development, and idea prototyping. In this session, we will show our experience and lessons learned in developing and prototyping connected devices.

Bio: Andrés Neyem is a professor in the Computer Science Department, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Universidad de Chile. His research interests include mobile computing, software engineering and computer supported collaborative work. He has published several papers in conferences proceedings and journals in these research areas.

Miguel NussbaumMiguel Nussbaum

Presentation title: Educational Games and the Design Based Research Approach

Abstract: While investment in technology for learning continues to increase, studies still do not reveal any significant improvements in learning. Simply providing a computer or technological devices to children does not lead to an improvement in learning. In this presentation we look at which elements must be considered when introducing digital resources to improve learning. Through the “Integrative Learning Design Framework,” we exemplify with applications that were used in classrooms examples of each of the phases that consider the school system requirements.

Bio: Miguel Nussbaum is a professor at the Computer Science Department of the School of Engineering of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. In 2011 he was honored with the Chilean award for innovation in the Education category, and he has been a member of Chile’s Agency for Quality in Education since 2012. He has published more than 70 articles in ISI journals, received over 2,600 citations for his research papers, and successfully guided 17 students to their doctorates as dissertation advisor. His work in instructional design, which integrates the use of technology, is focused on how to change teaching practices in the classroom to make children the protagonists of their learning experience. His scientific developments have been implemented in schools in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the United States, Great Britain, Guatemala, India, Sweden, and the UK, and have received the support of UNESCO. He also studies the use of educational games and multimedia in the classroom, and school effectiveness.

Robert PetitpasRobert Petitpas

Bio: Associate researcher at Fauna Australis wildlife laboratory and assistant researcher at Interdisciplinary Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies (ICIIS) of Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. MSc. in Environment, Science, and Society from University College London. My research interests are society-environment interactions, citizen science, and landscape ecology. I am working on several interdisciplinary projects related to wildlife ecology and management, social sciences, computer science, and public-science relations.

Barbara PobleteBarbara Poblete

Presentation title: Extracting social knowledge from microblogs

Abstract: The rise of online social networks has massified the notion that Web users are active publishers of their own content. Users now constantly share pictures, videos and their objective and subjective perceptions of the world they live in. In particular, microblog platforms such as Twitter have made online social networks an extremely rapid environment for disseminating, almost in real-time, news and personal experiences. The democratization of content publication has brought several new challenges, among these, the analysis of large volumes of streaming data and the understanding of higher level abstractions such as sentiment, opinions and events.

In this talk, I will discuss some examples of how social knowledge can be extracted from microblog content, including credibility prediction, event detection, and the analysis of cultural differences between countries.

Bio: Dr. Barbara Poblete is an Assistant Professor at the University of Chile. She received her Engineering and M.Sc. from the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile and her Ph.D. from the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain. She worked as a researcher at Yahoo Labs Santiago and later joined the University of Chile where she holds her current position. Dr. Poblete is head of the PRISMA research group at the Computer Science Department of the University of Chile.

Dr. Poblete's research interests are in the areas of Web data mining, online social network analysis and information retrieval on the Web. Her work on time-sensitive credibility in microblog platforms, published at The World Wide Web Conference and in the journal Internet Research, has been recognized by important news media, such as Scientific American Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Slate Magazine, among others. Currently, she serves in the Program Committee of the conferences SIGIR, ECIR, CIKM and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. In addition, she is one of the organizers in the annual Celebration of Women in Computing in Chile.

Christophe PoulainChristophe Poulain

Bio: Christophe Poulain is a software developer in the Microsoft Research Connections team at Microsoft Research. He collaborates with academic partners and teams at Microsoft to build solutions that address needs from the research community or showcase new technologies. Recent projects include CodaLab, Try F#, Microsoft Translator Hub, and contributions to WorldWide Telescope.

Siddharth Prakash

Presentation title: Massively Empowered Classroom—a Blended Learning Experiment by Microsoft Research India

Abstract: While traditional MOOCs are gaining popularity and getting lot of attention, there’s much that can be done in the classroom using technology to enable better delivery and engagement. Massively Empowered Classroom (MEC) is a project/experiment deployed by Microsoft Research India designed to bring the highest quality classroom material to every undergraduate engineering student in India and similar markets. In addition to top quality content, MEC also provides platform and tools for teachers/instructors to leverage this content in their regular teaching activities.

With over 10,000 current users across eight different universities, MEC provides a platform and an opportunity for researchers to better understand the future of online education.

Bio: Siddharth Prakash works as a research program manager with Microsoft Research India. In his current role, he works with external collaborators, research organizations, and academia to improve the state of the art in computer science and build strong research communities. He is very interested in research in education and is currently working on a couple of projects in this area.

Prior to joining Microsoft Research, Siddharth worked as an academic developer evangelist with Microsoft India.

Sai RavelaSai Ravela

Presentation title: Deformable Hurricanes and Turbulent Salamanders: Vision for Ecology and Environment

Abstract: In this talk, I describe two closely related ideas with impact in Ecology and Environment. The first is to model fluids as deformable patterns. This allows solutions to difficult geophysical inference problems essential to understanding our planet. I’ll show in particular how fusion of predictions and measurements can be much improved for coherent fluids this way and discuss its practical impact. The second idea is to model pattern deformations as turbulent fluids in a way that makes them amenable to object recognition. Along with other tricks including relevance feedback and crowdsourcing, I’ll present its use in the Sloop animal biometric or individual animal identification system, designed for biologists to generate capture histories. I will discuss Sloop’s impact at the Department of Conservation, New Zealand and the emerging Sloop network. Time permitting, I’ll discuss the use of drones to further study of coherent atmospheric structures and animal biometrics.

Bio: Sai Ravela directs the Earth Signals and Systems Group ( in the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Ravela’s primary interests are in developing succinct representations of chaotic dynamical processes and to design systems to autonomously observe them, with application to ecology, energy and environment. Contributions in over 75 published articles have been made in the areas of Cooperative autonomous observation (, perceptual fluid dynamics (, animal biometrics (, and fluid imaging ( Dr. Ravela studied Vision and Robotics at the University of Massachusetts, obtained a PhD in Computer Science (2002), with post-doctoral work in Atmospheric Science and Stochastic Systems Theory at MIT. He is the Co-founder of Windrisktech LLC, which uses machine learning and physics to improve estimates of hurricane risk. He is the founder of E5 Aerospace LLC, which develops novel planning, guidance, and control for multi-UAS monitoring and mapping.

Douglas RobertsDouglas Roberts

Presentation title: ALMA: Early Science Results from the most powerful Millimeter/Submillimeter Telescope

Abstract: The Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope is now the world’s most powerful telescope using the millimeter/submillmeter wavelength range. The array is composed of 66 precision telescopes on the Chajnantor plateau at 5,000 meters altitude in northern Chile. I will provide an overview of this new observatory and show some very recent results from my research showing exciting signs of star formation near the very center of our galaxy. This new discovery is important as it shows that stars can form very close to the massive black hole at the very center of our galaxy; the black hole is more than 4 million times the mass of the Sun. ALMA’s unprecedented ability to observe with such resolution and sensitivity is providing new information about previously unknown astrophysical phenomena.

Bio: Doug Roberts is an adjunct Associate Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois and now works with the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) team at Microsoft Research. He leads various radio astronomy efforts to understand the supermassive black hole at the galactic center—called Sagittarius A*. Recently Roberts led many of the important radio observations monitoring the close approach of a large gas cloud to the Sagittarius A*.

Roberts uses scientific visualization, including WWT, to interpret his own research and communicate it to professional and public audiences. As a new member of the WWT team, he is a liaison between Microsoft Research and the planetarium, astronomical research and informal learning communities. He is keen on connecting research and outreach activities and developing the visualization innovations necessary to bring them together.

Arjmand SamuelArjmand Samuel

Presentation title: Lab of Things— An Internet of Things Research Platform

Abstract: Various research domains require deploying connected devices and sensors to research data. These research domains include healthcare, energy management, sensor design, to name a few. Deploying such sensors at scale, and in geographically dispersed environments poses significant design and engineering challenges. Microsoft Research’s Lab of Things aims to provide such an infrastructure to facilitate at-scale research in a number of research areas. In this session, we will provide an overview of the Lab of Things along with a technical deep dive into the architecture and application development model.

Bio: Arjmand Samuel is a Research Program Manager at Microsoft Research Connections. Arjmand is responsible for building academic research partnerships related to Mobile Computing and Software Engineering. Arjmand has a PhD in Information Security from Purdue University. He has published in a variety of publications on topics of privacy and security in the healthcare domain and social media. He has published several patents and contributed to books on access control models. His recent research interests are in the areas of abuse-prevention and privacy in social media, and, cloud-enhanced mobile computing.

Monica TentoriMonica Tentori

Bio: Monica Tentori investigates the human experience of ubiquitous computing to inform the design of ubiquitous environments that effectively enhance humans’ interactions with their world. Her research intersecting human-computer interaction and ubiquitous computing particularly focuses on designing, developing, and evaluating natural user interfaces, self-reflection capture tools, and new interaction models for ubiquitous computing. Her work is being applied to healthcare and urban living to support the needs of urban citizens, hospital workers, elders, and individuals with autism and their caregivers. Tentori's research demonstrates that effectively designed ubiquitous environments have the potential to promote healthy lifestyles and independence, and positively impact attention, behavior, and workload.

Kristin TolleKristin Tolle

Bio: Kristin M. Tolle, Ph.D. is a director of Environmental Science Infrastructure in the Microsoft Research Connections team and co-editor with Tony Hey of the book The Fourth Paradigm: Data Intensive Scientific Discovery. She has been working at Microsoft for 14 years, mainly in Microsoft Research. Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Tolle did data-driven biomedical research at the University of Arizona, Artificial Intelligence Lab. Her present research interests include: big data management and curation, the development of freely available tools designed to facilitate time to discovery in environmental science, and data driven models to glean inferences about climate change impacts.

Agma TrainaAgma Traina

Presentation title: Data Mining Supporting Researches on Climate Changes Regarding Agrometeorology: the Agrodatamine View

Abstract: This talk will present and discuss novel data mining techniques developed in the Agrodatamine project aimed at meeting the challenges of dealing with the huge volumes of data generated by the climate models and the integration of heterogeneous data gathered by remote and ground sensors. The techniques were evaluated on real databases collected from Brazilian regions, which grows sugarcane crops. The choice for sugarcane was due to its importance for biofuel production, a very important commodity for the country economy.

Bio: Agma Juci Machado Traina received her BSc and MSc in Computer Science, and PhD in Computational Physics from the University of Sao Paulo in 1983, 1987, 2001 respectively, and was a visiting researcher at the Computer Science Department of the Carnegie Mellon University from 1998 to 2000. Since 2008 she is a professor at the Computer Science Department with the University of São Paulo at Sao Carlos. She has advised so far 39 graduate students, with more than 150 publications in major journals and conferences, including several best papers. Her research interests include mining and indexing in complex data, retrieval by content, similarity search, visual analytics, big data and image processing.

Genoveva Vargas-SolarGenoveva Vargas-Solar

Bio: Genoveva Vargas-Solar is deputy director the Franco-Mexican Laboratory of Informatics and Automatic Control (LAFMIA), in Mexico. She is senior researcher of the French Council of Scientific Research (CNRS) and she is member of the HADAS group of the Informatics Laboratory of Grenoble, France. She is senior invited researcher of the Data and Knowledge Management Group at Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

In 2000, she obtained her first PhD degree in Computer Science at University Joseph Fourier and in 2005 she obtained her second PhD degree in Literature at University Stendhal. In 1997, she obtained her first master's degree in Computer Science at University Joseph Fourier and in 1998 she obtained her second master's degree in Compared Literature at University Stendhal. She did her undergraduate studies on Computer Systems Engineering at Universidad de las Américas in Puebla.

Her research interests in computer science concern distributed and heterogeneous databases, reflexive systems, and service based database systems. Her research interests in literature concern middle age literature, myths’ critics, and myths’ analysis applied to different myths of origins. She has coordinated several research projects in Europe and Latin America financed by governments and industrial partners. She actively promotes the scientific cooperation in computer science between Latin America and Europe—particularly between France and Mexico.

Nicolas VillarNicolas Villar

Presentation title: Device Oriented Research

Abstract: Making custom hardware devices is an important part of the research process for an increasing number of groups within Microsoft Research, particularly as Microsoft reinvents itself as a “devices and services company.” This session will provide an overview of some of the device-oriented research across Microsoft Research and academic collaborators in Latin America. The session will cover how much of our experience in making devices at Microsoft Research has been encapsulated in the design of .NET Gadgeteer—a publicly-available and open-source hardware toolkit—and how Gadgeteer has been used in practice to realize by researchers and students to quickly prototype complex devices.

Bio: Nicolas Villar is a researcher at the Sensors and Devices team at Microsoft Research, based in Cambridge, UK. His research focuses on understanding and developing technologies that enable interactive computing devices to be rapidly prototyped, manufactured and deployed.

Nicolas is part of the team that developed .NET Gadgeteer—an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices by using the .NET Micro Framework. The toolkit combines the advantages of object-oriented programming, solderless assembly of modular electronics, and support for customizable physical design.

Martin Wikelski Martin Wikelski

Professor Martin Wikelski is currently the director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell Germany as well as a professor at the University of Konstanz and a Research Scholar at Princeton University. Before coming back to Europe in 2008, Martin held positions at the University of Washington and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute before becoming a faculty member at the University of Illinois and then Princeton University.

Martin’s research group at the Department of Migration and Immuno-Ecology studies how living animals move across the globe, how they survive their perilous journey through time and space, and how and why they die. This includes investigations into the physiology, social interactions, and environmental parameters influencing the individual decisions of animals on the move. The group focuses on several projects related to these aspects including the ICARUS project—the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space. ICARUS' mission is to work towards establishing a remote sensing platform for scientists’ worldwide that will track small organisms globally, enabling observations and experiments over large spatial scales. It is a global collaboration of animal scientists that will establish a satellite based infrastructure for earth observation of small objects such as migratory birds, bats, or sea turtles. ICARUS plans to launch an experimental system to the ISS in 2015 followed by a testing phase on select projects from 2016 to 2017 and will open the system to the scientific community in 2018.

Roy ZimmermannRoy Zimmermann

Session title: Transforming Education Through Research

Abstract: This session will blend demonstration and discussion to share some of the newest research and learning tools coming out of Microsoft Research and academia. Demonstrations will include Sand Dance, a highly compelling information visualization tool, Massively Empowered Classroom (MEC), currently being deployed across India to increase quality and access to higher education instruction and a selection of educational games utilizing a design based research approach.

Bio: Roy Zimmermann is the director of Education and Scholarly Communication in Microsoft Research Connections. In this role, he leads a team that collaborates with higher education institutions around the world to develop next-generation technologies for education. Zimmermann’s primary goal is to work with academics, researchers, and scientists to foster innovations and advancements in teaching and research that help improve education around the world.

Before he joined Microsoft, Zimmermann worked at the American Council on Education’s Office of Higher Education for Development (HED). He oversaw all programmatic activities across all development sectors, including education, health, agriculture, and economic growth. His role was to ensure continuous quality of overall program implementation as well as new program development and strategic planning. He managed HED’s relations with federal, corporate, and other national and international stakeholders. Zimmermann has 20 years of experience in research, education, and international development. Zimmermann holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor’s degree in education and history from Emory University with a minor in Latin American studies.

Event sponsors

Ministerio de Economía, Fomento y Turismo

Microsoft Research