Berk Birand Receives the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship

Berk Birand, a Ph.D. student at the Department of Electrical Engineering working with Prof. Zussman, has been awarded the IBM PhD Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year. The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program. According to IBM, the program “honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in many academic disciplines and areas of study.” The competition this year was extremely intense, with several hundred nominations worldwide.

Berk received his B.S. degree from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2008 and his M.S. degree from Columbia University in 2010. His Ph.D. research is focused on the development of efficient cross-layered algorithms for wireless and optical networks. His primary goal is to obtain a fundamental understanding of wireless and optical networks and to use the obtained insights to develop network architectures and protocols that are efficient and scalable. He is currently working on obtaining performance bounds for distributed scheduling algorithms for wireless networks and on developing novel techniques for reducing the energy-consumption of optical aggregation networks, used for wireless backhauling. His work takes place with the framework of the NSF Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) ERC.

During the summer of 2010, Berk was a research intern at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Wireless and IT Convergence Group, where he worked with Dr. Murtaza Zafer. During his internship, he focused on developing methods to model changes in dynamic networks and to assess their effect on algorithms operating within these networks. The results will be applicable to various networks, including mobile wireless networks, social networks, and power grids.

Berk’s work on obtaining throughput-guarantees for greedy algorithms by using graph theoretical tools was nominated for the Best Paper Award in IEEE INFOCOM 2010. He won the Best Theory Session Talk award at the ACM S3 2010 workshop. He was also awarded the Millman Award for an outstanding Electrical Engineering Teaching Assistant at Columbia University and the Harold S. Black Award for an outstanding Electrical Engineering senior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. 


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