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In the five years since Microsoft Research initially launched the WorldWide Telescope (WWT), the product’s many features have been put to a variety of uses. Today in Chongqing, China, we saw yet another first for WorldWide Telescope: the unveiling of the first WWT-driven planetarium in China. The 8-meter dome installation is at the Shixinlu primary school and is powered by six high-resolution projectors. This installation enables students not only to see and study the stars and the universe in an immersive planetarium setting, but it also allows them to create their own tours of the heavens and have them displayed on the dome.
The first WWT-driven planetarium in China was unveiled at the Shixinlu primary school in Chongqing on October 23.
I represented the WorldWide Telescope team at the grand unveiling of the dome, and as I did so, I was struck by the impact our small research project has had around the world. Even more so, I was in awe of the vision of Dr. Chenzhou Cui from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who saw the potential of teaching and inspiring students via a planetarium placed directly in the school and who collaborated with Microsoft Research Asia to implement this vision via WorldWide Telescope. Dr. Cui and Mrs. Kailiang Song, the director of the school, worked tirelessly to get the installation built and running in six months and to provide a great environment for WWT. And above all, it is great to see the potential for many more students to gain a better understanding of astronomy by being immersed in the stars.
Representing the WorldWide Telescope team at the dome's unveiling, Fay was awed by the vision of Dr. Chenzhou Cui from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who recognized the educational potential of WorldWide Telescope.
The ability to use WorldWide Telescope in a multi-machine and multi-projector setup to display on planetarium domes is one of the features included in the Windows desktop client. The WWT client is freely available at www.worldwidetelescope.org.
—Dan Fay, Director of Earth, Energy, and Environment; Microsoft Research Connections
The timing couldn’t have been better. I had come to Bethesda, Maryland, to present Dr. David Lipman, M.D., director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), with the seventh annual Jim Gray eScience Award. David was selected for his contribution to the development of NCBI, one of the world’s premier repositories of biomedical and molecular biology data. Every day, more than 3 million users access NCBI’s more than 40 databases. NCBI is part of the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
My visit opportunely coincided with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the NCBI, an occasion I got to celebrate with David, who has served as NCBI’s director since its inception, and with his colleagues and fellow scientists. Imagine, 25 years of making biomedical information readily available to the public and the research community.
The gathering was brief, just 90 minutes, yet we had time to remember Jim Gray’s legacy. Several years before his disappearance at sea in 2007, Jim had visited NCBI and became excited by its mission, its people, and the activities in which it was engaged. He collaborated with the NCBI team in creating a “portable” version of PubMed Central, the archive for full-text versions of NIH-funded research papers. The success of this initiative is now embodied in Europe PubMed Central archive, for example. That Jim believed that NCBI represented the next generational approach to making scientific publications and scientific data accessible to future researchers is demonstrated by his specific mention of it in his oft-quoted last public talk. Together, David and I looked back at what NCBI had accomplished and remembered Jim Gray’s influence. I was honored to share comments about Jim’s Fourth Paradigm of data-intensive scientific discovery and to recognize David’s contributions publicly by presenting him with the year’s Jim Gray eScience Award.
David Lipman’s career exemplifies the kind of research leadership that Jim Gray believed in. The Jim Gray eScience Award is, more than anything, recognition of such leadership. In Jim's memory, we select recipients whom he would have identified as those whose work and support of others have made a difference. As one scientist put it, “Jim Gray preferred doers.” David was selected for his contribution to the development of what must be the most comprehensive set of open access resources in the biosciences. Jim Gray would be proud!
—Tony Hey, Vice President, Microsoft Research
On November 2, 2013, the spotlight shone brightly on 10 PhD candidates from nine top Asian universities as they were introduced to an appreciative crowd of 1,500 in the Grand Theatre in Hefei, China. On stage, these scholars received medals that signified their selection as the 2013 Microsoft Research Asia Fellows. Each of the new fellows beamed while shaking hands with presenters Peter Lee, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Research, and Hsiao-Wuen Hon, a Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research Asia.
Microsoft Research Asia 2013 fellows and advisors with Peter Lee, corporate vice president, head of Microsoft Research (back row, forth from the right); Hsiao-Wuen Hon, managing director of Microsoft Research Asia (back row, third from the right); and Feng Zhao, assistant managing director of Microsoft Research Asia, chairman of the fellowship program (back row, far left)
The award ceremony was part of the Computing in the 21st Century Conference, co-hosted by Microsoft Research Asia and the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). The fellowship program recognizes outstanding doctoral students who are studying computer science, electrical engineering, information science, or applied mathematics at Asia universities. Each winner has the opportunity to complete an internship, during which they participate in hands-on, advanced research at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing.
Since its inception in 1999, the program has awarded 351 fellowships to applicants who have demonstrated their strong research potential through concrete achievements at an early stage of their career. In so doing, it has successfully fostered advances and collaboration in computer science research. More than 80 of the past recipients continue to perform research, including 40 who have joined Microsoft Research Asia or other groups within Microsoft. Many have become rising stars in their investigative areas.
This year’s fellowship candidates—90 in all—were recommended by department heads at 45 leading research universities and institutions in Asia. Each candidate’s credentials were thoroughly evaluated by a review committee of researchers. Then, 27 finalists visited Microsoft Research Asia, where they presented their work to a committee of senior researchers. The students gained valuable feedback from leading researchers during these onsite interviews.
The 10 winners, each of whom successfully completed three rounds of intensive reviews, are:
After their warm reception in the conference hall, the fellowship winners were treated to lunch with Joseph Sifakis, director of the Rigorous System Design Laboratory at EPFL and recipient of the A.M. Turing Award in 2007. Then, they shared research experiences with more than 80 USTC graduate students, inspiring them to be creative and focused during research.
—Lily Sun, University Relations Manager, and Xin Ma, Senior Research Program Manager, both of Microsoft Research Connections Asia