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Announcing Google's Focused Research Awards

February 2, 2010

Posted by Alfred Spector, Vice President of Research and Special Initiatives

[cross-posted with the Official Google Blog]

It is said that Google is like a university — and not just because everyone eats their lunch off trays in the cafeteria. Like a university, we devote significant energy to research across a wide array of subjects — from semantics to help improve search, to ways we can improve the efficiency of our data centers. Along with our internal efforts, we've long invested in building a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with universities and the research community. We give approximately 150 research grants a year to fund projects across a variety of subjects, we host visiting faculty members here at Google on sabbatical, and last year we started the Google Fellowship Program to fund graduate students doing innovative research in several fields.

Today, we're announcing the first-ever round of Google Focused Research Awards — funding research in areas of study that are of key interest to Google as well as the research community. These awards, totaling $5.7 million, cover four areas: machine learning, the use of mobile phones as data collection devices for public health and environment monitoring, energy efficiency in computing, and privacy. These are all areas in which Google is already deeply invested, and yet there is a long way to go. We're excited to see what these projects contribute to the body of research in these important areas.

These unrestricted grants are for two to three years, and the recipients will have the advantage of access to Google tools, technologies and expertise. We've given awards to 12 projects led by 31 professors at 10 universities:

Machine Learning: William Cohen, Christos Faloutsos, Garth Gibson and Tom Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University

Use of mobile phones as data collection devices for public health and environment monitoring: Gaetano Borriello, University of Washington and Deborah Estrin, UCLA

Energy efficiency in computing:

  • Ricardo Bianchini, Rutgers, Fred Chong, UC Santa Barbara, Thomas F. Wenisch, University of Michigan and Sudhanva Gurumurthi, University of Virginia
  • Christos Kozyrakis, Mark Horowitz, Benjamin Lee, Nick McKeown and Mendel Rosenblum, Stanford
  • David G. Andersen and Mor. Harchol-Balter, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Tajana Simunic Rosing, Steven Swanson and Amin Vahdat, UCSD
  • Thomas F. Wenisch, Trevor Mudge, David Blaauw and Dennis Sylvester, University of Michigan
  • Margaret Martonosi, Jennifer Rexford, Michael Freedman and Mung Chiang, Princeton


  • Ed Felten, Princeton
  • Lorrie Cranor, Allesandro Acquisti and Norman Sadeh, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Ryan Calo, Stanford CIS
  • Andy Hopper, Cambridge University Computing Laboratory

We look forward to working with these researchers over the coming years. And, as we continue to identify key areas of research that are of mutual interest to both university researchers and Google, we will provide awards to support these collaborations. For more information about all of our research programs, check out our University Relations site.

Update at 1:14 PM: Added Allesandro Acquisti and Norman Sadeh to the list of PIs on the CMU privacy project.