Cornell Computer Science PhD Program Office is located in Gates Hall.

Courtesy of Cornell University

Cornell Computer Science PhD Program Office is located in Gates Hall.

January 25, 2018

Two Cornell Doctoral Students Receive Prestigious Microsoft Fellowships

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Two Cornell Computing and Information Science doctoral students, Manish Raghavan and Justine Zhang, were chosen for Microsoft’s Ph.D. Fellowship Program for 2018-19, which accepts only 10 students nationwide each year.

Raghavan and Zhang are Cornell’s first recipients of the fellowship since 2015. This year also marked the first year since 2009 that Cornell had more than one student awarded the fellowship, which covers full tuition for two years while providing the students with an annual stipend of $32,000.

Cornell’s Ph.D. program in computer science is consistently ranked as one of the top six such programs in the country. Students in the program are fully funded by Cornell with teaching assistantships, graduate research assistantships or fellowships.

“One of the nice things about being in a Ph.D. program, especially at a place like Cornell, is that you can basically work on whatever you want. You have autonomy to work on what you want to work on,” Raghavan said.

Raghavan described the program as “a good community” with an amicable environment and people.

“It feels like people are pretty close together here. You see the same people and if those are the people you want to hang out with, what more can you ask for?” Raghavan said.

When a Cornell student receives a fellowship, it is also beneficial to other Cornell students, Raghavan explained.

“The more fellowships that students at Cornell get, the better we’re able to handle funding [for] all the students,” Raghavan said.

Raghavan is unsure as to what he will do after completing the Ph.D. program but is looking towards entering academia. Raghavan, who studied computer science as an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley chose to come to Cornell largely because of his advisor Prof. Jon Kleinberg, computer science, a Cornell faculty member with whom he had worked with over the summer.

“The faculty here are definitely a big draw,” Raghavan added. “It’s why a lot of people at Cornell are at Cornell.”

Zhang could not be reached for comment.