After the award: students and mentors

June 6, 2011

Posted by Leslie Yeh Johnson, University Relations Manager

For the past two years, we’ve looked forward to honoring the best and the brightest graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees around the globe through Google’s fellowship program. We’re thrilled to be supporting these students with a monetary gift, but what happens after the awards are given out?

An important component of our fellowship program is the Google research mentor. Each fellowship student is paired with a full-time Googler based on mutual research interests. The idea is that the mentors provide a different point of view from the students’ day-to-day academic world, introduce them to a professional network which will last their entire career and provide meaningful context and feedback based on their own experiences as the students work their way through graduate school. In return, the Googler has the unique opportunity to mentor one of the top students in the field and foster a future leader in technology.

Jason Mars of the University of Virginia was awarded the 2010 Google U.S./Canada Fellowship in Compiler Technology. Robert Hundt, a compiler and datacenter researcher at Google, was Jason’s research mentor. Here, they share how a fellowship turned out to be much more than just an award:

In Jason’s words
When I first met Robert at a research conference, I didn’t realize he would become one of the most important mentors I've had. Beyond our match in personality and thinking styles, Robert took an interest in shaping and sharpening me as a researcher and engineer, and I've benefited greatly from his guidance. I realized after my first internship that Google faces some of the most compelling research problems in computer science today. Robert’s mentorship combined with my Google Fellowship have prompted me to delve deeper into these open problems. In fact, I ended up returning to Google for two subsequent internships. Together, Robert and I have published a number of research papers (with more on the way) and filed two Google patent applications. Our relationship is greater than just mentor and mentee—we are colleagues and friends.

In Robert’s words
Given the high expectations we have for our interns, it’s no surprise to me that one of our most successful interns, Jason Mars, is a recipient of an esteemed Google Fellowship. A three-time returning intern, Jason brought great levels of enthusiasm, creativity, problem solving and problem finding skills to our team, and kept us all on our toes by challenging assumptions and the status quo. He has written half a dozen conference and workshop papers and has built relationships with many people, not just at Google, but throughout Silicon Valley. Jason is well on his way to become a renowned expert in datacenter performance and contention issues. I am very proud of him and grateful to be part of his journey. I believe I may have learned as much from him, with his limitless energy and technical creativity, as he has learned during his time at Google. Lastly, and most importantly, I have won a friend.

2011 Google Fellowships
This year, we we will be awarding fellowships to 34 promising young research students around the globe. These awards support their tuition and stipend, as well as a Google research mentor. Click here for a PDF of all of our Google Fellowship recipients. Congratulations to all the fellows; we look forward to seeing you move technology forward.