Microsoft Research Awards $1.7 Million in Academic Funding to Advance Research in Health, Education and Digital Inclusion

Editors’ Update, April 11, 2006
— The spelling of the surname of one recipient, Vincent DiStasi, has been corrected below.

REDMOND, Wash. — Feb. 23, 2006 — Microsoft Research today announced the recipients of $1.2 million (U.S.) in funding for academic research that focuses on how technology can unlock the potential of people in underserved communities by making computing affordable, accessible and relevant. The 17 winners of the Digital Inclusion request for proposals (RFP) represent teaching universities from 10 countries, including China, India, Pakistan, Uruguay and the United States. The company also announced the 11 recipients of the $500,000 (U.S.) Tablet PC Technology, Curriculum and Higher Education RFP. The winning proposals focused on using the Microsoft® Tablet PC to enrich the classroom experience for instructors and students across all disciplines.

“We work with academic researchers worldwide to tackle technological challenges to positively affect health, education and socioeconomic conditions,” said Sailesh Chutani, director of the External Research & Programs group of Microsoft Research. “Whether pushing toward digital inclusion on a global scale with underserved communities or enhancing computing curriculum for higher education in developed countries, we have a vision of enabling all people to have the opportunity and the skills to harness technology’s rewards.”

Today’s announcements underscore Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to investing in innovative research, collaborating with academic institutions and governments to advance education, cultivating the next generation of IT leaders, and partnering to build knowledge economies. By providing one of the largest academic RFP programs in the IT industry, the company continues to search for innovative solutions to today’s problems by engaging with academic researchers throughout the world.

Digital Inclusion RFP Winners Seek to Bring International Communities Closer Together

Research that winners of the Digital Inclusion RFP program will delve into includes telemedicine and the use of the cell phone as a platform to provide affordable, accessible and relevant technology services to underserved communities. Other winning proposals will look at delivering an integrated Internet-based healthcare information service targeting HIV/AIDS patients in Botswana; finding out if using Wi-Fi-enabled phones can boost cognitive development in children using Internet chat services in Santiago, Chile; exploring long-distance learning at a village school in Tibet using networking and audiovisual teaching equipment at Tibet University; and building a prototype of an early-warning system for flooding using sensor networks on the Rio Aguán in Honduras.

“It takes vision and boldness to fund an RFP like this,” said John Bennett of the University of Colorado at Boulder, whose proposal to develop bidirectional community radio — or AIR (Advancement through Interactive Radio) — as a means to achieve social and economic advancement was among the winners. “Microsoft clearly sees funding a project with technology at its core can have sociological ramifications that can assist those in underserved communities. We are exceptionally grateful for their generosity and their foresight.”

Many of the winning research universities, including all seven of those in the United States, are partnering with nongovernmental organizations in remote settings to develop proof-of-concept applications. The following is the full list of Digital Inclusion RFP winners:

  • Guillermo Marshall, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Carlos Osvalod Rodriquez, Cequinor/Lanais EFO, CONICETUNLP, Argentina

  • Henry Nyongesa, University of Botswana, Botswana

  • Srinivasan Keshav, University of Waterloo, Canada

  • Miguel Nussbaum, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Chile

  • NyiMaTraShi, Tibet University, China

  • M.B. Srinivas, International Institute of Information Technology, India

  • Jan Carel Diehl, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

  • Umar Saif, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Pakistan

  • Eduardo Grampin, Instituto de Computacion, Universidad de la Republica Uruguay, Uruguay

  • Thomas Anderson, University of Washington, U.S.

  • Suman Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S.

  • John Bennett, University of Colorado at Boulder, U.S.

  • John Canny, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.

  • Joseph Rosen, MD, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, U.S.

  • Roni Rosenfeld, Carnegie Mellon University, U.S.

  • Daniela Rus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.

Tablet PC RFP Winners Focus on Educational Research, Enhanced Curriculum

The Tablet PC initiative will fund curriculum development and educational research projects that explore the impact of the tablet technology to help make teaching and learning more engaging and effective for instructors and students. The winners of the Tablet PC RFP will examine the effectiveness of tablet technology in traditional computing areas such as computer architecture, the design of user interfaces, and real-time collaboration as well as noncomputing content projects such as nursing, business and engineering. The following is the full list of Tablet PC RFP winners:

  • Simone Barbosa, Pontificia Universidade Catolica, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  • Richard Anderson, University of Washington, U.S.

  • Phyllis Brenner, Madonna University, U.S.

  • Ricky Cox, Murray State University, U.S.

  • Vincent DiStasi, Grove City College, U.S.

  • James Kraushaar, University of Vermont, U.S.

  • Lin Qiu, State University of New York, Oswego, U.S.

  • Tom Stahovich, University of California, Riverside, U.S.

  • Veronica Thomas, Howard University, U.S.

  • Joseph Tront, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, U.S.

  • Julia Williams, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, U.S.

The External Research & Programs group will use this RFP as a catalyst to encourage educators to apply resources toward revising, updating and validating curriculum and pedagogy in conjunction with tablet technology in higher education.

The funding announced today is part of the Microsoft Research broad collaboration model, which underscores Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to investing deeply in innovative research. Last week the group announced the 23 winners of over $1 million (U.S.) in funding focused on advancing Microsoft Virtual Earth™ technology as well as developing Trustworthy Computing curriculum projects. Microsoft Research has provided almost $4 million (U.S.) in IT research funding through the administration of six RFPs in the past fiscal year. Over the past two years Microsoft Research funding has supported more than 125 research projects at universities around the world in areas ranging from social computing and gaming to e-science and digital inclusion.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research employs more than 700 people in five labs located in Redmond, Wash.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; Cambridge, England; Beijing; and Bangalore, India. The External Research & Programs group within Microsoft Research is dedicated to building world-class relationships with colleges and universities that enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and establish Microsoft as a valuable technology partner for higher education. More information can be found at

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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