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Since 2005, Microsoft has picked leading university researchers to participate in its Microsoft Research Faculty program — drawing on the talents of cutting-edge scientists and researchers from across the globe. But in the latest crop of fellows, Microsoft didn’t have to go too far.

The company has selected Shwetak Patel — an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the UW — as one of eight fellows this year. Other honorees include faculty members at Stanford, Cornell and Georgia Institute of Technology. The fellowship includes a cash award of $200,000, given over a two year period.

Patel specializes in technologies for the home, having previously sold his home-energy monitoring startup, Zensi, to Belkin International.

Microsoft says that it picks faculty who “are advancing computing research in novel directions with the potential for high impact on the state of the art, and who demonstrate the likelihood of becoming thought leaders in the field.”

Here’s more on what he’s working on from an abstract on the Microsoft research site.

Many of his techniques use the existing utilities infrastructure as a “sensor,” thereby reducing the need for additional instrumentation. In one example, Patel has developed techniques for energy and water monitoring that provide a detailed breakdown of consumption in the home through monitoring a single point on the utility infrastructure. Through these new sensing approaches, Patel envisions the ability to instrument homes easily with smart technology for high-value applications.

Upcoming: Patel will be the guest on the upcoming GeekWire podcast and radio show.

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