Interview with Dr. Yan Xu, World-Renowned Researcher and Educational Leader

This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with top-echelon and renowned professionals. In this blog, I interview Dr. Yan Xu, a world-renowned researcher and educational leader.

Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P., MVP

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    About Dr. Yan Xu
    Dr. Yan XuYan Xu, Ph.D., is a Research Program Manager in External Research & Programs (formerly University Relations) at Microsoft Research, Redmond WA, USA.

    Yan joined Microsoft Research in March 2006. Her research has been focused on exploring technologies and pedagogical strategies that facilitate and enhance interdisciplinary computational education and computational thinking. She is responsible for the Computational Education for Scientists program, which enables collaborations with academia for infusing computational thinking into science education to create tomorrow's scientists. Yan is also responsible for applying Microsoft Phoenix technology to computer science education as part of the Phoenix Academic Program.

    Yan has over ten years experience working in the software industry. Prior to joining Microsoft Research, she worked for several startup software companies as a senior software architect. She also served as a principle member of the W3C XML Protocol working group. Yan received her Ph.D. in Physics from McGill University, Canada.

    Key Resources:

  • Comments (7)

    1. TL says:

      What is McGill doing in this area?

    2. Stephen Ibaraki says:

      McGill is undertaking a number of innovative programs. Yan talked about them after the podcast and we talked about doing a follow-up with McGill. I’ll check with Yan and see if she can provided added insight.

      Thank you for the question.



    3. E I says:

      Are there any plans to take this to Asia?

    4. Yan Xu says:

      Dr. Renee Sieber, a true interdisciplinary researcher/educator at McGill, attended CEfS2007 (see last year and contributed a great deal at the all-hands-on workshop. After that, Renee connected with Dr. Sue Whitesides, Director of the School of Computer Science at McGill. Sue and Renee came up with a creative format of enabling active communication and engagement among researchers from various disciplines at McGill: they host a "TAG party" every month or so. The next TAG party is on April 14, which is sponsored by Microsoft.

      The "TAG party" is part of the research project that Sue is currently collaborating with CEfS at Microsoft Research.

      Dr. Erica Besso, the Research Innovation Officer at the Faculty of Science of McGill, was the one who connected me with Renee, Sue, and others at McGill. With the support and guidance from Dr. Whitesides and Dr. Besso, McGill and Microsoft Research are working together on establishing computational interdisciplinary collaborations with researchers and educators in Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, and potentially Social Science.

      Thank you for the question. Please feel free to contact us at

    5. Yan Xu says:

      The status of computational education for scientists varies from country to country and from culture to culture. Therefore, at this early stage, our proof of concept are mainly done by focusing on the universities in the states.

      The CEfS program is however designed to serve the academic community worldwide. We plan to invite thought leaders in this area from Asia to join us at the next annual workshop, CEfS2008 and go from there. Details of CEfS2008 will come soon on our Website.

      Your question is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    6. Stephen Ibaraki says:

      EI, I talked with Yan about this and she indicated she will be responding. Thank you for your question.



    7. Stephen Ibaraki says:

      Yan, I do appreciate you taking the time to provide ready reponses to questions.

      Thank you,


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