Download Research Tools
AIDS. Like many people, I was aware of the disease but had only a basic understanding of the history and impact of the AIDS pandemic. That all changed for me, thanks to my involvement in the AIDS Quilt Project. My name is Madison Allen, and I’m a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. I got involved with the AIDS Quilt through my work on ChronoZoom, an ambitious tool that strives to tell the history of everything—from the moment of the Big Bang until now—on a zoomable timeline.
When Roland Saekow, one of the original developers of ChronoZoom, first sent out a proposal for a history of AIDS timeline (as suggested to him by Donald Brinkman and Rane Johnson at Microsoft Research), I was immediately intrigued. I contacted Roland and, after some initial background research, I quickly realized the importance of this project. Though I originally knew very little about the subject, I was eager to expand my knowledge and become part of such a worthy undertaking.
Soon I was receiving data from Professor Anne Balsamo and graduate students Lauren Fenton and Rosemary Comella of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. As I began to input the data into the ChronoZoom AIDS timeline, I started to understand the far-reaching potential of this project.
The greatest challenge was deciding what to include in the timeline—there is such a wealth of information on the history of both AIDS and the quilt itself. We wanted to include much more, but given the project’s time restrictions, we were forced to make difficult decisions. It was also a challenge to represent the historical facts while simultaneously stressing the tragic personal effect that AIDS has had on millions of people. Striking a balance among the personal, medical, historical, and political aspects of AIDS was extremely challenging, as each aspect adds its own unique part to the incredibly complex history of AIDS. Working with such a heart-wrenching topic was also sobering for me.
I hope this timeline will convey the sweeping impact of AIDS. No part of the world, no gender, no community has gone untouched. Countless lives have been devastated by both the disease and the stigma that has long been associated with it. I was shocked to discover that nearly as many lives have been destroyed by discrimination as by the actual illness. I hope that people will take the information in the timeline and use it to work actively in promoting a more accepting environment for those afflicted with AIDS. I also hope that there will be renewed and reinvigorated efforts to find a cure and to distribute medicine to those who desperately need it but cannot afford it. Around the world, so many people suffer from lack of medicine and care. This week’s display of the AIDS Quilt in its entirety in Washington, D.C., will, I hope, send a message that is heard around the world—a clarion call to remedy the current situation.
The ChronoZoom technology brings the timeline to life, allowing people to see the interwoven histories of AIDS and the AIDS Quilt side by side, while also placing the disease in the greater context of human history. It gives people the unique opportunity to learn about AIDS through different media and from different viewpoints. The incredible deep zoom function even allows people to view the quilt in its entirety at specific moments in history, illustrating the growth of the quilt and the continuing onslaught of AIDS. In the future, we hope to include additional unique interviews and stories to further demonstrate the impact of AIDS on a more personal level.
This project has been an incredible learning experience for me. Prior to working on the timeline, my understanding of AIDS and its worldwide impact was incomplete, to say the least. Though my knowledge is far from complete now, I have begun to grasp the complex and tragic effect that AIDS has had on millions. More than just a disease, AIDS is a lifelong battle for both health and acceptance. I feel so honored to have participated in this project and hope it will increase awareness about AIDS and, by so doing, foster greater acceptance and promote efforts toward finding a cure. The timeline, like the quilt, will serve as a reminder of and tribute to all those who have fallen victim to the devastation of AIDS and will provide hope for an AIDS-free future. —Madison Allen, guest blogger
Almost 90 PhD students convened for the seventh PhD Summer School
The first week of July was an exciting one for us here at Microsoft Research Cambridge, as we hosted the seventh PhD Summer School. Each year, we invite scholars in the Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme, as well as students from partnering universities and institutions, to join us in Cambridge, England, for a week of immersive research, technical talks, transferrable skills talks, poster sessions, and socializing.
This year’s event was attended by almost 90 students from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Attendees came from as far afield as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and from 14 European countries. Our Russian guests included the five winners of the Microsoft Research Computer Vision Contest. We also welcomed nine students from the EU-funded Marie Curie Initial Training Network TransForm, which partners with our Cambridge Systems and Networking group.
Our school “curriculum” featured research talks covering the spectrum of work being done across our lab research groups. Topics included computational methods for planetary prediction, software verification, functional programming, datacenter performance, medical imaging, and crowdsourcing. Our technical talks covered Microsoft and Microsoft Research technologies including Kinect for Windows, .NET Gadgeteer, Microsoft Academic Search, F#, and cloud technologies.
In addition to the technical discussions, we also spent some time focusing on personal development. This year’s talks included several Summer School classics such as “How to Write a Great Research Paper and Give a Great Talk” by Simon Peyton-Jones and “A Rough Guide to Being an Entrepreneur” by Jack Lang from the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. We also included some new talks in the mix, including discussions on “Strategic Thinking for Researchers” and “Intellectual Property at Microsoft.”
We weren’t the only presenters at this year’s Summer School. Our students displayed their research to dozens of Microsoft researchers during our three lunchtime poster sessions. 32 of our Microsoft PhD scholars, whose PhD studies are funded through Microsoft Research Connections, had the opportunity to meet with their Microsoft co-supervisors during this period as well.
“[The students] really liked the poster session, especially the opportunity to get direct, one-to-one relevant feedback from Microsoft senior researchers,” said Jon Crowcroft, professor of Communications Systems in the Cambridge Computer Lab and PhD supervisor/advisor to some of the attending students.
Incentivized by the Alan Turing Centenary, we wanted to do something special this year, so we organized a networking event one afternoon. The afternoon began with a pair of keynote talks: “Can Computers Understand Their Own Programs?” by principal researcher and ACM Turing Award winner Sir Tony Hoare, and “The EDSAC Replica Project” by former Lab Director Andrew Herbert. The afternoon continued with a DemoFest, featuring Microsoft Research technologies and five winning projects from the Computer Vision Contest.
We all enjoyed the week tremendously and wish the “class” of 2012 all the best. We already look forward to next year’s Summer School!
—Scarlet Schwiderski-Grosche, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Research Connections EMEA
The Microsoft Faculty Summit celebrates the ongoing collaboration of Microsoft Research and the academic community, providing a forum for leading faculty members and Microsoft personnel to collectively discuss the future of computing and its applications in solving real-world problems. This productive partnership extends all the way back to the founding of Microsoft Research, so at this year’s summit, we are pleased to release Science@Microsoft, an e-book that commemorates our many years of fruitful teamwork
Now, not to complain, but imagine the task that fell to me and my fellow editors—David Heckerman, Stephen Emmott, and especially Yan Xu and Kenji Takeda—reviewing years and years of research to select a handful of stories that encapsulate the irrepressible innovation, the remarkable collegiality, and the ground-breaking impact that have characterized the collaboration between Microsoft Research and leading academic researchers. It was almost as daunting as the original research. Well, not really, but it was challenging. Which stories would make the cut? What were the selection criteria? As David Heckerman observed, “Our challenge was to select a small number of stories that each represented a unique aspect of the new paradigm—the eigenstories, if you will.”
In the end, we focused on the last 10 years, choosing stories that demonstrate the breadth of our collaborative research and the potential of computer science to address some of the world’s most vexing problems. We believe these stories demonstrate the amazing power of technology to impact areas far afield from traditional computer science.
Within these pages, you will read about investigations into the genetic basis of human disease, the study of the heavens, and the design of three-dimensional objects. You’ll find accounts of basic research with practical outcomes: from protecting endangered wildlife to safeguarding consumers. You’ll see how Microsoft Researchers, working in concert with academic and government investigators, have tackled some of the most pressing issues of the twenty-first century, from climate change to the AIDS epidemic to world hunger. You’ll also discover equally valuable, if less headline-worthy, contributions to the publication of chemical information and the reuse of data from clinical studies. Still, choosing was difficult. In the words of Stephen Emmott, “It was virtually impossible to select, given the first-rate science characterizing all of the projects.” Above all, this collection demonstrates Microsoft Research’s commitment to applying computer science to basic research and our rich history of working with external researchers. These stories commemorate a great record of using computing technologies in the service of humankind.
Science@Microsoft is published under a Creative Commons license, and is available as a PDF at microsoft.com/scienceatmicrosoft. It is also offered as an e-book through the Amazon and Barnes & Noble online stores. So fire up your laptops or e-readers!
—Tony Hey, Vice President, Microsoft Research Connections