Google Fellowships, the Nuts and Bolts

May 15, 2009

Posted by Leslie Yeh Johnson, Google University Relations

As you may have read, today we announced the recipients of the 2009 Google Fellowships. (You can read the announcement over on the Official Google Blog.) This is fantastic news, and the blog post makes the Google Fellowship Program sound very polished. But the truth is there was a lot more work (and scrambling) done in the's a quick snapshot.

We first conceived of the idea of the fellowships late last year. Google already funds academic research through the Google Research Awards, but we really wanted to support the graduate students who are doing a lot of the research and are the future of their respective fields. Idea: why don't we search out the best and brightest PhD students and pay their tuition and expenses, plus give them an Android phone and hook them up with a Google researcher so we can all share really cool ideas? Done and done.

After we made the decision to do the fellowships in 2009, we were in for some hard work. We quickly spread the word about the fellowships in order to give the universities and students time to prepare and send us information about themselves and their research. The nominated students were doing research on a vast array of subjects: Cloud Computing, Computer Graphics, Market Algorithms, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Social Computing, Information Retrieval, Compilers, and Computer Vision to name a few. I relied upon a small army of research scientists and distinguished engineers to help me review them. In addition to lending their scientific expertise to looking over the Google Research Awards, not to mention their "day job", the forty-five Googlers also were able to provide feedback on the students in record time - these guys are champs. Then a whirlwind review with Alfred Spector, VP of Research and Special Initiatives at Google, and just six months later we are proud to announce the 2009 Google Fellowship recipients.

It was a jam-packed 6 months, and I'm really proud of how the program turned out this year. That said, I'm already looking forward to our sophomore year in 2010. You should expect to see a broader program covering more areas of research, more schools, and more geographies. I can't wait.