Former DARPA Researcher to Lead Top MSFT Lab

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Microsoft said this week it has hired a former government researcher to head the Redmond labs contingent of its basic research organization, Microsoft Research (MSR).

In addition, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is expanding its New England Research and Development (NERD) facilities in Cambridge, Mass.

Beginning this fall, Peter Lee, a noted computer researcher with expertise in software security and reliability, will become managing director of MSR Redmond.

Lee most recently worked for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) -- the same federal agency that started the predecessor of what later evolved into the Internet.

According to a brief biography from Microsoft, prior to joining DARPA, Lee headed Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU) highly-regarded computer science department. Lee also chaired the board of directors for the Computing Research Association and served as a member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, Microsoft said.

He will report to Rick Rashid, senior vice president of MSR, who is also a former CMU computer science professor. MSR was founded in 1991 under Rashid who was brought in to head the organization.

Besides Redmond, Wash. and Cambridge, Mass., MSR also has labs in Silicon Valley, and Cambridge, England, as well as in Beijing, China and in Bangalore, India. The company's MSR labs in Mountain View, Calif. celebrated their 10th anniversarylast fall.

Over the past 19 years, MSR researchers have participated in several highly-visible projects including the surface multi-touch tabletop computer. Another recent product from Microsoft that includes work from MSR is the Kinectcontroller-less game controller for the Xbox 360.

MSR has also contributed to less visible but more pragmatic projects such as Microsoft Word's grammar checker, for example.

Meanwhile, NERD, which is headed by Jennifer Chayes, distinguished scientist at MSR and managing director of MSR New England, will expand by an additional 100,000 square feet under a lease signed in May.

"The expansion enables Microsoft to create a campus-like work atmosphere that brings together the bulk of the company's research and development teams in the state," a company statement said.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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