Young Pioneers Recognized

Young Pioneers RecognizedYoung Pioneers Recognized

Emma Brunskill

Young Pioneers Recognized

Andreas Krause

Young academic researchers make pioneering discoveries in key areas of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University — and it continues to get noticed.

Emma Brunskill, assistant professor of computer science at CMU, and Andreas Krause, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science at CMU in 2008, are two of seven global recipients this year of a prestigious Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship. Krause is now an assistant professor of computer science at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the California Institute of Technology.

Now in its eighth year, the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship Program rewards innovative new faculty members who are exploring breakthrough, high-impact research that has the potential to help solve some of today's most challenging societal problems.

"Emma pushes computer science research at Carnegie Mellon in exciting new directions," said Jeannette Wing, head of CMU's Computer Science Department. "She has the courage and vision to tackle societal grand challenges, such as education, sustainability and health care, through fundamental advances in computational methods for sequential decision making. Her desire for impact goes beyond traditional measures of academic success; she wants to make a difference in the lives of people in developing or low-income regions."

Brunskill's research area is artificial intelligence and her particular emphasis is on decision making under uncertainty — making a series of decisions without knowing the exact outcome of each decision. This is relevant to many applications, including health care and robotics, though much of her work to date has focused on education.

"One area that very much interests me is creating and formally analyzing algorithms that enable artificial agents to perform lifelong learning across a series of tasks, leveraging prior experience to increase later performance," she said. "In addition to being a fundamental aspect of intelligence, such approaches could help us develop applications such as self-improving educational software that teaches better as it interacts with more students."

She added, "The Microsoft fellowship will greatly help me to build a group passionate about pursuing this research by providing funds for student support and postdocs."

Each Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship includes a cash award. Fellows also receive invitations to conferences and engagements with Microsoft Research.

"The main thing you hear again and again from past recipients is that this gives them instant recognition within their field," said Harold Javid, a director with Microsoft Research Connections. "They are recognized at conferences, younger researchers ask them about the process and they get a chance to network in a way they could not before."

"And, of course, the funds are a big help. They can go down more risky paths, because they don't have to make a promise at the start that they will achieve a certain result. This lets them be bold, and that can really help them with their career."

Related Links: Read full release | School of Computer Science | Microsoft Fellowship

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