Thursday, 8 December 2011

LUMS professor receives Google Faculty Research Award

Dr Umar Saif has been recognised by Google for his research work funded by the US State Department. PHOTO: MIT

Dr Umar Saif, the Associate Professor for Computer Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), who was receognised by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earlier this year, has been awarded the prestigious Google Faculty Research Award.
A statement released on LUMS website read that Dr Saif had been awarded for his research work, funded by the US State Department.
The Google Faculty award aims to provide funding to full-time faculty working on research in areas of mutual interest with Google. The second round of awards saw funding of 119 awards across 21 different focus areas for a total of six million dollars. The subject areas that received the highest level of support this time were systems and infrastructure, human-computer interaction, social and mobile. In addition, 24% of the funding was awarded to universities outside the US.
The US$ 100,000 Google Faculty Research Award makes Dr Saif the first faculty member in a Pakistani university to receive the competitive grant, awarded for the low-cost rural telephony systems that he has been working on for the past three years along with colleagues at UC Berkeley.
His collaborators on the research, in the Systems and Infrastructure category, include Tapan Parikh, Assistant Professor at the iSchool at UC Berkeley.
Dr Saif had earlier in the year been recognised by the MIT Technology Review as one of their top 35 innovators (TR35) for 2011. The list honours technologies for the developing-world which are being used by millions of people. He was awarded for the applications BitMate – that enhances the speed of Internet in the developing-world using peer-to-peer technology, and – Pakistan’s largest SMS Social Network which has sent close to 4 billion SMS for users in Pakistan.
Dr Saif is currently on leave from LUMS, working as the Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB).


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