Microsoft to fund PhD scholars

11 Jan 2007

Microsoft is to fund four Irish PhD research students, it emerged today. Three are to receive three-year scholarships under the company’s MSR European PhD Scholarship Programme and a fourth is to receive an award under a separate scheme.

The three students are Cliona Roche, studying in University College Dublin, Eugene Marnane at the University of Limerick and Conor Cafferkey from Dublin City University. They were chosen in a competitive call under the Embark Initiative, which is operated by the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology’s (IRCSET) Postgraduate Scholarship Research Scheme.

Each student will become the Embark Microsoft Research Scholar in their respective disciplines. Their research covers a range of fields including; modelling of protein structure by machine learning; describing an ad hoc network that will allow nodes to share local information; improving machine learning and treebank-based probabilistic parsing through wide-coverage lexical resources.

Microsoft Ireland is also funding an additional PhD scholarship under its Microsoft Academic Scholarship Programme. This is being awarded to a Polish student, Karolina Owczarzak, who is researching a project called TransBooster which is a support system for machine translation.

In total, the MSR scheme supports up to 30 new students per year in computing as well as those working in disciplines where computing and the sciences cross paths, including biology, chemistry and physics.

At the beginning of their PhD, students are invited with their supervisor to Microsoft’s research lab in Cambridge to meet researchers there with a view to potential collaborations. Microsoft will also supply each student with a Tablet PC for the duration of their studies.

At the end of the first year of their PhD, students return to Cambridge to present their work to date and detail future research. They will also have the chance to attend lectures by Microsoft researchers and external academics on various topics of general interest.

At the end of year two, some of the students may be offered a summer internship at Microsoft Research Cambridge. These schemes involve working on a real project at the facility as part of a team of Microsoft researchers.

By Gordon Smith