Brown CS News

Brown CS Announces The $10,000 Randy F. Pausch '82 Computer Science Undergraduate Summer Research Award


    Brown University's Department of Computer Science (Brown CS) is glad to announce a significant milestone in the continued growth of our undergraduate research program. A generous gift from Peter Norvig '78 has established the Randy F. Pausch '82 Computer Science Undergraduate Summer Research Award, which provides $10,000 annually to support an undergraduate engaged in an intensive faculty-student summer research partnership at Brown CS.

    Norvig, now a Director of Research at Google and a thought leader in the areas of artificial intelligence, natural language processing, information retrieval, and software engineering, was drawn to Brown as an undergraduate by the open curriculum and his interests in computer science and linguistics, which he studied in high school. "Computer science seemed much simpler then," he says. "We went slower, and we had the advantage of being able to cover the entire field. But if you wanted a piece of software, you usually had to write it yourself." 

    His gift honors the life and work of Randy F. Pausch '82, a renowned expert in computer science, human-computer interaction, and design who died of complications from pancreatic cancer in 2008 and whose "Last Lecture" has been widely praised. "I didn't know Randy when I was at Brown," Peter says, "but we met afterward and corresponded for many years. His story is inspiring, and this is an opportunity to remember him."

    Norvig sees this award as a "multiplier" that will amplify the value of his gift and extend it through time. "I'm interested in students with a wide range of personalities and interests," he says, "and in putting students and faculty together. In the past, we had to build all our own tools, and we didn't have time to combine computer science with other fields. Now, there are so many opportunities to do so. I think it's a wise choice: you invest in things that you think will do good, and educating a student allows them to help add to the things that you're already trying to accomplish." 

    "This is a prestigious award," says Department Chair Ugur Çetintemel, "It's the first of its kind, and we hope it inspires many others. It's going to fund one of our exceptional students whose work reflects the high standards and values for which Randy was recognized. We're truly grateful to Peter for honoring Randy's life and accomplishments by creating this lasting research opportunity for our best and brightest."

    To apply, no later than February 15, 2016, students should email Associate Professor (Research) and Vice Chair Tom Doeppner either: (A) a copy of their summer UTRA application or (B) a two-page description of their proposed research and a letter of support from the Brown CS faculty member they intend to work with. 

    For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communications Outreach Specialist Jesse C. Polhemus