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Fueling the Future: Faculty Fellowship

Microsoft Research is committed to investing in the future of computer science research through its Faculty Fellow program as illustrated through the story of Fei-Fei Li.

Harold Javid, Director, Regional Program, Microsoft Research Connections

“Early career professors face some really big challenges. Among them is the desire to really launch a career of research. And yet they have to spend so much time seeking outside funding that they spend more time looking for funding than they spend looking for actual research topics. The Faculty Fellowship Program allows them to really focus on their research rather than on seeking funds in those critical early years.”

Fei-Fei Li, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Stanford University

“After Princeton, I went to CalTech for my PhD. I was in the electrical engineering department. My research focus was in computer vision, artificial intelligence and computational neuroscience.  I received the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship award in 2006. The Microsoft Faculty Fellowship was very helpful in funding me to explore risky and early projects that would not have been supported otherwise. In my case, it was the ImageNet project along with others. The ImageNet project is a massive data set collection and research project in computer vision and AI. Our research in computer vision will have huge impact down the road in visual image search in digital data, indexing, and management in robotic navigation, and interaction with humans.”

Juan Carlos Niebles was my very first PhD student. He joined my lab when I was a very young faculty. And we worked together for more than five years. After Juan Carlos’ very successful PhD, he went back to his home country: Colombia to become an assistant professor.”

Juan Carlos Niebles, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Electronik Engineering, Universidad del Norte

“I was selected a Microsoft Faculty Fellow back in 2012. The fellowship is very interesting because it highlights new researchers in the field that have potential to develop new ideas that can lead the community to move forward in the science.”

Harold Javid, Director,Regional Program,Microsoft Research Connections

“Fei-Fei Li’s student, Juan Carlos, surprised us by being selected in 2012. He came through our Latin American part of the program. And he was nominated by universities in Latin America. And at the time we didn’t even recognize that he was Fei-Fei Li’s student.”

Juan Carlos Niebles, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Electronik Engineering, Universidad del Norte

“The fellowship definitely helps in multiple dimensions. One of them is it allows my work to be exposed to a wider community, a wider computer science community. Also as a mentor, it helps my students to get inspired as well to pursue their own ideas and research agenda. And also from research perspective, it helps me to pursue new ideas, new risky ideas that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to pursue.”

Fei-Fei Li, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Stanford University

“I am very proud of Juan Carlos. He is one of the trailblazers in Colombia who are doing modern computer vision and artificial intelligence research and mentoring the future generations of students in that field of study in Colombia.”

Harold Javid, Director, Regional Program, Microsoft Research Connections

“Having a significant amount of funding with no strings attached allows an early career researcher to really follow courageously the path that their research leads them.”

Fei-Fei Li, Associate Professor, Computer Science Department, Stanford University

“The Microsoft Faculty Fellowship has played a very positive role in our research community. It recognizes the young, rising stars of computer science research. It provides early and critical funding to these young faculty, especially for their exploratory research projects, and it opens up collaboration opportunities with Microsoft researchers.”

“I personally feel very honored that I was selected as a fellow. And it is great to be among this group.”

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