Posted by Jennifer Chayes, Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England and the newly announced Microsoft Research New York City

 Jennifer Chayes

One of the wonderful elements of basic research is that you never know where it will take you. In this case, it’s taking me home (at least metaphorically). I was born in Manhattan, and I’ve always felt a special bond with the vibrant energy, creativity, and innovative spirit of New York City. So I’m thrilled to announce the opening of the Microsoft Research New York City lab, initially consisting of 15 extraordinary researchers, most of whom are joining us from Yahoo! Research. 

I’m honored to serve as managing director of the new New York City lab, in addition to my ongoing work as managing director of Microsoft Research New England, in Cambridge, Mass. Creation of this new lab represents an incredible opportunity for Microsoft Research—enabling us to bring together the right researchers in the right location at the right time.
 
Microsoft Research is always looking to attract the best and brightest minds. We are constantly assessing areas of expertise that can enhance and expand our culture of creativity and innovation. I am confident that, in addition to advancing the state of the art in research, MSR-NYC will work to rapidly transfer insights into our company’s product groups, positively impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of our customers. The MSR-NYC researchers who are now part of the Microsoft Research family embody a new wave of research that will push the boundaries of computational and experimental social science, algorithmic economics and prediction markets, and machine learning.

The research community is highly connected, so we’re well aware of and have long admired the incredible work being done by the researchers we are welcoming to Microsoft Research, including thought leaders such as Duncan Watts, David Pennock, and John Langford. But as we in Microsoft Research connected with them to begin a meaningful dialogue about their plans and aspirations, we began to fully appreciate not only their individual talents and expertise, but also their uncanny ability to work together with unrivaled energy and passion. The conversations left me and other Microsoft Research researchers inspired to expand our East Coast presence. I’m thrilled to share that David Pennock will take the reins as MSR-NYC’s assistant managing director, overseeing the day-to-day operations at the NYC facility.

I’m excited as well for the collaboration opportunities between the research interests of this phenomenally talented team in NYC and the work being done by my team in the New England lab around social media, empirical economics, and machine learning. The approaches of the two labs to social science and economics research are distinct but highly complementary, and, indeed, we expect that the whole will be much greater than the sum of its parts.

On a global level, our New York City researchers will become part of the Microsoft Research network of more than 850 Ph.D. researchers, focused on more than 55 areas of computing, and will have the ability to collaborate openly with leading academic, governmental, and industry researchers.

With labs in seven countries worldwide, we’re always intrigued by how location plays such a critical factor in the development and success of each Microsoft lab. In a way, New York City can be considered a living laboratory, built upon an intellectual foundation of renowned research institutions, an energized collaborative culture, and a hotbed of activity in high tech, financial services, publishing, advertising, art, and design.

This new lab will provide an opportunity for Microsoft Research researchers and developers worldwide to share and interact with the NYC academic and tech communities. Specifically, MSR-NYC has started to reach out to prestigious research universities in the area, including Columbia, NYU, the new Cornell-Technion NYC campus, Princeton, and Rutgers, to discuss ways to collaborate more closely and to support each other. We look forward to continuing these conversations and realizing the potential opportunities available.

All of this couldn’t come together at a better time. New York City recently has dedicated itself to becoming a leader in technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched an Applied Sciences NYC initiative, seeking to infuse New York’s economy with collaborative research between universities and businesses to spur economic growth.

We are excited about our opportunity to contribute to this initiative by helping to create new disciplines at the intersection of computer science and the social sciences. The only limits are those of our imaginations. If we can dream it, we can build it. And what better place to dream and build than NYC?

Who says you can’t come home again?

For more thoughts and insight from the latest additions to the Microsoft Research family, read Microsoft Research Debuts N.Y.C. Lab.