Microsoft awards prestigious honor to ECE professor Fei-Fei Li


ECE Staff Writer

Microsoft Research has recognized ECE professor Fei-Fei Li as one of the most outstanding young computer engineering professors in North America by naming her to its New Faculty Fellowship Program.

Li is one of only five academics from North America chosen to join the program, which Microsoft said honors “early-career professors who demonstrate the drive and creativity to develop original research while continually advancing the state of the art of computing.”

Li, who is a professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a full-time faculty member in the Artificial Intelligence groups at the Beckman Institute, will receive a $200,000 cash award over the next two years to assist in her research.  Li is in select company after being chosen from among 100 nominees.  The program is only in its second year and nominees must undergo a multi-round selection process and interviews with panelists from Microsoft Research and academia.

“Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellows represent the best new professors in computing disciplines today,” said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research.  “The intellectual curiosity and capacity that each fellow has demonstrated is inspirational, and we will watch their careers develop with interest.”

Li’s computer vision focus is on helping machines see like humans.  Microsoft compared her work to an art aficionado mentally processing a painting: “Just as the art lover’s brain blends individual points of color in an Impressionist painting to create a whole, Fei-Fei is developing algorithms to enable computers to generate comprehensive digital representations of complex objects and scenes.  The desired result is new tools for personal photo organization and image searches, and, eventually, assistance for the visually impaired.”