Last fall, 60 recent Ph.D. graduates were awarded Computing Innovation Fellowships supporting postdoctoral positions at research institutions throughout the country. This first-ever initiative coordinated by the computing research community was funded by the National Science Foundation and sought to retain new Ph.D.s in research and teaching during difficult economic times, as well as to support intellectual renewal and diversity in computing at U.S. organizations. The CIFellows project was described in the September 2009 issue of CRN.1
Just six months later, the program is proving to be a tremendous success. Both CIFellows and their mentors in the inaugural class have reported “enjoyable and rewarding” experiences. Their research has led to breakthrough advances in areas as diverse as synthetic biology, computational neuroscience, programming languages, computer algorithms, computer graphics, and education technologies. For instance, CIFellow Sitaram Asur, working with mentor Bernardo Huberman at HP Labs, has developed a tool that harnesses Twitter feeds to predict movie box-office revenues. Asur’s predictive model was featured in the April 2 issue of The Los Angeles Times (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/02/business/la-fi-ct-twitter3-2010apr03), among other popular media.
To date, six CIFellows have accepted full-time faculty appointments, one has received a prestigious NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, and many others have committed to a second year of support through the program. The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) and Computing Research Association (CRA) administer the fellowships. For more information about the program, visit www.cifellows.org.
Erwin Gianchandani is the Director of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC); Andrew Bernat is the Executive Director of the Computing Research Association (CRA); and Ed Lazowska, who chairs the CCC Council, holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington.