Two Indian American university professors are among the first five recipients of Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellows for 2005, it was announced on Thursday.
The two Indian Americans Subhash Khot and Radhika Nagpal along with Fredo Durand, Dan Klein and Wei Wang were selected from a pool of 110 nominees representing universities across the United States.
The fellowship award, under which each recipients will get a cash grant of $200,000 to pursue their innovative research work in computer science, is a new programme that honours early-career university professors showing exceptional talent for novel research and thought leadership in their discipline.
The winners three men and two women are given the opportunity to explore collaborations with some of the top researchers working in their area of interest at Microsoft Research.
"We have much to learn, and much to gain, from today's talented young minds," said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research. "Even early in their teaching careers, these award winners are pushing the boundaries of computer science research in exciting new directions," he said.
"The intellectual curiosity, creative drive and thought leadership they demonstrate is exactly the sort of initiative we seek to encourage in developing programmes like the New Faculty Fellowship Awards," said Rashid.
Khot is a first-year assistant professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Khot's research tackles fundamental questions regarding which problems can and cannot be solved quickly on a computer.
The questions Khot addresses in his work often have deep connections to diverse areas in mathematics, logic, cryptography and computer science.
Nagpal is a first-year assistant professor of computer science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. Her research interest is in engineering self-organising, self-repairing systems, using inspiration from biology, and in better understanding robust collective behavior in biological systems.
The University Relations group at Microsoft Research established the New Faculty Fellowship Awards programme to identify and support exceptional first-year, second-year and third-year professors who are advancing the state of the art of computer science research.
Microsoft Research said it recognises that until young professors can build a reputation, they typically struggle to secure adequate funding for their research work.
The programme accepts just one nominee per university and includes a rigorous, multi-round selection process that culminates in live interviews before a distinguished panel of reviewers from Microsoft Research and the academic community.
"This programme offers a major boost to a young faculty member with an exciting research vision," said Maria Klawe, dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, who helped judge the Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship Awards.
"It provides support and credibility for long-term and perhaps risky initiatives. This is extremely important for the field of computing because computing has been trying to cope with major reductions in the funding of fundamental research by government and industry," she said.