Posted by Rob Knies

IEEE logo 

Even in this awesome, hyperbolic age, the words “extraordinary achievement” don’t get tossed around all that much. And when they come from the IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, they retain the distinction of superiority the King’s English surely intended.

Consider, then, the thrill with which Dilek Hakkani-Tür and Yongguang Zhang of Microsoft Research must have experienced in late November upon learning that they had been named to the list of 2014 IEEE Fellows.

That honor is one of the most prestigious in the IEEE, the product of an annual rigorous evaluation procedure that produces a select group of recipients. The Fellows are chosen for “extraordinary accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest.”

Both Zhang and Hakkani-Tür heard of their selection by email, but don’t think that renders the honor any less eagerly received.

Yongguang Zhang 

“I first learned the news from the announcement email sent by the IEEE president [Peter W. Staecker],” Zhang said. “I feel honored and humbled.”

He’s not the only one.


“It was the most exciting moment in my research career,” said Hakkani-Tür, a senior researcher who, while a member of the Conversational Systems Research Center at Microsoft Research Redmond, works from Microsoft Research Silicon Valley. “I was at the San José airport, on my way to Redmond, when I saw an email from Douglas O’Shaughnessy [the IEEE Speech and Language Technical Committee (SLTC) chair, who had nominated her]. Then I noticed the IEEE Fellows email, as well.”

Hakkani-Tür’s Fellowship citation was “for contributions to spoken-language processing.”

“I am extremely delighted and honored to receive this recognition!” she said. “I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with great people throughout my scientific journey.”

Dilek Hakkani-Tur 


Zhang, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research Asia and research manager of that lab’s Wireless and Networking group, similarly took a moment to recognize his colleagues.

“This,” he said, “is a recognition for my contributions, as well as for the whole Wireless and Networking research group that has been pursuing a shared vision with me over the past several years.”

The citation for Zhang’s Fellowship was “for contributions to software radio technology.”

“This is, indeed, the highest recognition and honor I have received so far in my career,” he said. “It is a tall milestone for anyone who makes technology research his or her lifetime pursuit.”

Hakkani-Tür, who focuses on natural language and speech processing, spoken dialog systems, and active and unsupervised learning for language processing, holds her newfound status of IEEE Fellow in equally high esteem.

“This is one of the highest recognitions in my research area, speech and language processing,” she said. “IEEE is a very credible institution in this field, IEEE SLTC is one of the biggest and most active committees inside IEEE and the Signal Processing Society, and each year, only a few people get awarded.”

For 2014, Dilek Hakkani-Tür and Yongguang Zhang represent Microsoft Research’s contribution to the IEEE Fellowship. Congratulations!