National Science Foundation Awards Fellowship to NYU-Poly Student Working to Boost Performance of Next-Generation Wireless Networks

Fraida Fund, an undergraduate at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly), has been selected to receive a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, a highly competitive award reserved for exceptional students pursuing research-based graduate degrees. Fund, who will earn her bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from NYU-Poly this spring, will enter the PhD program in electrical engineering this fall.

The Graduate Research Fellowship is a three-year award, providing honorees with an annual stipend and educational allowance for tuition and fees. Fund will conduct her doctoral research under the mentorship of NYU-Poly Professor Shivendra Panwar, director of the New York State Center for Advanced Technology in Telecommunications (CATT), and Research Assistant Professor Thanasis Korakis

As an undergraduate, Fund held an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates position at NYU-Poly’s Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technology (WICAT), where she was tasked with setting up a fourth-generation (4G) wireless testbed and conducting measurements to facilitate future experiments. Fund focused on measuring the service quality of applications running on a 4G network in an urban environment, where buildings can interfere with packet transmission.  Her experiments uncovered frequent instances of packet loss at speeds that dramatically disrupted real-time, data-heavy applications such as video conferencing. Fund's research suggests the need for further innovation to improve service and reduce disruptions.

"Fraida's research includes some of the only openly available data highlighting the challenges of running real-time video applications over 4G channels, and it sets the stage for her to pursue solutions that may have a significant impact on the industry," Panwar explained.

As part of her doctoral research, Fund proposes to explore the unique problems that affect wireless systems in cities, and strategies for mitigating these issues.

"Fraida is one of only about 50 graduating electrical engineers in the country to be recognized with an NSF fellowship, which is further testament to the strength of her skills and her potential for academic excellence," added Panwar.

Fund joins a select group of NYU-Poly students who recently received NSF Graduate Research Fellowships, including Dustyn Roberts, who was honored in 2011 for her work utilizing robots to study how human joints use energy, and Vladislav Kopman, who received a 2010 fellowship to further the development of underwater robots capable of interacting with live marine animals.  Both are pursuing PhDs in NYU-Poly’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is awarded to students who have a history of outreach and leadership that complements their academic achievements. Fund has spent two years volunteering at the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women, a public school in her native Brooklyn. As part of a program run by the nonprofit Girls, Inc., she works as a classroom assistant and as an afterschool tutor, helping young women excel in mathematics, science and technology. Fund explains:“By sharing my experiences as a woman in engineering, I hope to ‘infect’ these students with my passion for discovery and innovation.”