Posted by Rob Knies

TechFest 2013 logo

Among the most engrossed attendees of the first day of TechFest 2013 had to be this year’s class of Microsoft Research Ph.D. fellows, who received an invitation to the event by virtue of their selection to the program.

The fellows are recipients of a two-year fellowship for outstanding Ph.D. students, nominated by their universities, in their third and fourth years of Ph.D. graduate studies.

Among those invited to attend was Rashmi Vinayak of the University of California, Berkeley, whose experience, while hers alone, certainly must be shared by her fellow recipients.

“I really felt honored,” she says, “because it’s a very prestigious award and the process is highly competitive. I was delighted.

“The most important part that fellowship brings is that I can interact with the researchers at Microsoft Research who are interested in the same research areas as I am. There are very good people doing similar research here, and I’m really looking forward to working with them and interacting with them, during the fellowship and during my internship here. “This will be really helpful, because they have a close interaction with product teams, as well. That’s a very different perspective that I’m hoping to get by interacting with the folks from Microsoft Research.”

Rashmi VinayakThe fellowship provides support for two years, which gives the fellows the freedom to pursue their research without worrying about economic concerns.

"It will cover my tuition fees,” Vinayak says, “gives a stipend to cover living expenses, and also provide travel grants to attend conferences. This is nice to have."

Vinayak will be returning to Redmond in May to begin an internship with the Compression, Communication and Storage group, headed by Jin Li, a Microsoft Research Redmond principal researcher.

Not surprisingly, Rashmi found herself amazed by her initial TechFest experience.

“I just attended Rick Rashid’s talk, and it was amazing,” she says. “The demos that were shown in the talk were very interesting, so I’m going to check out those booths. I just saw the list of demos, and they sound very cool.”

The 2013 Microsoft Research Ph.D. fellows:

  • Ahmed Kirmani, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Bharath Hariharan, University of California, Berkeley
  • Gennady Pekhimenko, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Jeffrey Rzeszotarski, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Mathew Weinberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Mert Pilanci, University of California, Berkeley
  • Michael Paul, Johns Hopkins University
  • Mingchen Zhao, University of Pennsylvania
  • Rahul Sharma, Stanford University
  • Rashmi Vinayak, University of California, Berkeley
  • Walter Lasecki, University of Rochester
  • Yufei Zhao, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Also attending TechFest 2013 were the two winners of 2013 Latin American Ph.D. Fellowships:

  • Oscar Edwin Alvarez Callaú, University of Chile
  • Rafael Auler, University of Campinas