ECE undergrad’s NSF fellowship will support Ph.D. research

Eric Lei ’20, a student of ECE Associate Professor Christoph Studer, has been awarded a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students pursuing degrees in STEM fields. The program’s goal is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. 

The GRFP provides three years of educational support for individuals whose research has demonstrated potential for significant achievements in their fields. The program is not only interested in applicants’ intellectual merit but also the broader impacts their research may have on society.

Lei’s research proposal concerns wireless localization for next-generation wireless systems, and builds on work he has done with Prof. Studer. “The general idea is to predict locations of users (such as phones, cars, or other devices) using information acquired during data transmission, without other tools such as GPS or traditional methods like triangulation,” Lei explained. His work will investigate the efficacy of various new methods which do not require as much collected data and which can work in non-line-of-sight conditions.

Understanding systems from a security point of view is an important aspect of Lei’s research. “We are living in an age where almost every object in our lives is connected to the internet, and likely to some wireless network." Lei said. “Objects such as refrigerators, cars, and watches may be used to locate people without their knowledge. To protect the right to privacy, the inner workings of these new localization systems need to be well understood before ways to subvert privacy invasion can be found.”

Lei is planning to start his Ph.D. in the fall. The fellowship award includes an annual stipend of as well as covering tuition and fees. 

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