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Announcing the 2021 Google Cloud Customer Award Winners in Education and Research

June 15, 2022
Steven Butschi

Head of Education, Google Cloud

We’re thrilled to celebrate this year’s seven Education and Research winners of the Google Cloud Customer Awards

The second annual Google Cloud Customer Awards program honors organizations that have succeeded in turning new ideas into realities. Google experts independently judged and scored an unprecedented number of submissions from around the world. Winners in education and research demonstrated innovative thinking and inspirational digital transformation using Google Cloud products and solutions.

In addition to winning industry category awards, three of these public sector winners are also receiving a Technology for Good honor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Social Impact, or Sustainability.

Google Cloud Customer Award Winners: Education

Whether learners and educators are working and studying remotely or coming back to campuses, cloud solutions can help unlock new possibilities in learning and collaboration.


Winner: Cignition. Cignition, a Google for Education Partner, built a data-informed and gamified tutoring platform backed by neuroscience and machine learning research to help K–12 students master course concepts and enjoy math. Math proficiency has long been stagnant, and underserved students have seen a decline. Cignition is helping to improve math skills and making its technology easily available to all students through its online portal.


Winner: Penn State World Campus. At Penn State World Campus, learners all over the world take classes online. A team of 48 full-time academic advisors spent a year tracking their advising workflows and discovered that staff consistently fielded the same questions, often spending 15 to 30 minutes collecting information for the answers. The team used artificial intelligence (AI) to identify processes that could be automated, and implemented a virtual assistant to provide responses to routine queries. Now, the majority of student questions can be answered in seconds, freeing up precious advisor time to spend with the students who need it most.

Google Cloud Customer Award Winners: Healthcare and Life Sciences

Public sector organizations are leading the way in breakthroughs that make a difference in people’s lives. By moving forward with research and finding unique, real-world solutions to universal issues, organizations are making positive impacts every day and setting examples for the future.

Winner: Harvard Medical School. Researchers at Harvard Medical School built VirtualFlow, an open-source tool that can screen billions of chemical compounds. Matching one potential compound after another is the tedious and time-consuming first step before any drug candidates can be selected for clinical trials. But VirtualFlow can scale up screenings and accelerate that process. For COVID-19, researchers used VirtualFlow to identify potential new treatments and shared findings publicly on an interactive homepage.


Winner: UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery. Healthcare workers can find it difficult to distinguish between the stresses and challenges of their work and illness. To help, Dr. Samuel McLean, director of the UNC Institute for Trauma Recovery, developed the Heroes Health app with colleagues at UNC and Harvard Medical School. The app enables frontline medical providers to assess their own mental health through brief weekly assessments, track their wellness through graphs of symptom severity over time, and get help through links to immediate crisis support and self-help tools.

Google Cloud Customer Award Winner: Social Impact


Winner: Northwestern Neighborhood and Network Initiative. In the Chicago area, the Northwestern Neighborhood and Network Initiative (N3) – a research institute at Northwestern University – is using the power of big data to address core problems in the community. When the ever-growing volume of social science datasets presented challenges, N3 consolidated data into data tables, using Data Studio and BigQuery, which can be quickly accessed from any location. This achievement, which wins Northwestern the Social Impact Award, allows for better insights, more effective data sharing with community partners, and greater speed and efficiency to take meaningful action in neighborhoods.

Google Cloud Customer Award Winner: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Winner: The University of Chicago. The University of Chicago, recognized with an Education Industry Award and the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, is finding opportunities to transform how we think about representation and the messages we’re sending to children. A research team at the university’s interdisciplinary Messages, Identity, and Inclusion in Education lab (MiiE) developed open-source tools to better understand how to address disparities by measuring the representation of race, gender, and age in children’s books.

Google Cloud Customer Award Winner: Sustainability

For the first time, we’re giving a Sustainability Award to recognize customers who are trying to solve the tough challenges of climate change. These organizations are taking action to build a better world by using aggregated data and analysis.


Winner: California Institute of Technology. The winning team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Climate Modeling Alliance (CliMA) are developing new computational tools to carry out high-resolution simulations of atmospheric turbulence, convection, and clouds.

While climate simulations can help researchers forecast risks, clouds create a great deal of uncertainty in climate predictions. By building a next-generation, open-source Earth System Model to reduce and quantify cloud uncertainties, Caltech and CliMA are changing the game for climate science and helping to improve our climate future.

 All of these Google Cloud Customer Award winners are harnessing cloud technology to accomplish incredible goals for their organizations, and we can’t wait to help them achieve even more in the years ahead. Visit our customer pages to find out why many more of the world’s leading companies are choosing Google Cloud to help them innovate faster, make smarter decisions, and collaborate from anywhere. 

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