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Before she was recruited by Microsoft Research, Jennifer Chayes was a professor of mathematics at UCLA. Although mystified at the time as to what the software giant might want with her heavily theoretical work, Chayes has gone on to do research that has wide-reaching applications on the Internet, including search, keyword advertising, recommendation systems, and social networks. Having previously cofounded the Microsoft Research Theory Group, Chayes is now managing director of the Microsoft Research New England lab, which will open in Cambridge, MA, in July. Technology Review recently asked Chayes about the transformation her work has undergone, and how she might carry her research forward in the new lab.