Marconi Society Honors Three Young Researchers

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The Marconi Society has awarded three 2015 Paul Baran Young Scholar awards to researchers who have made significant contributions in the field of telecommunications and the Internet.

The Marconi Society will honor three 2015 Paul Baran Young Scholars at its award gala on Oct. 20th at the Royal Society in London. Ken Pesyna, a doctoral candidate at The University of Texas Electrical Engineering School, Joseph Lukens, Ph.D., a researcher at Purdue University Electrical Engineering School, and Kartik Venkat, a doctoral candidate at Stanford University Electrical Engineering School have been selected based on their significant contributions to wireless and Internet technology, and their outstanding academic performances.

Pesyna’s work makes use of a special part of the GPS signal that, if used correctly, can provide centimeter or even sub-centimeter positioning accuracy. One of his breakthroughs has been to integrate the technology into an ordinary smartphone, eliminating the expense of additional equipment.

“Ken has laid the technical foundation for a revolution in our field of positioning, navigation, and timing, a revolution that will culminate in the mainstreaming of satellite-based centimeter-accurate positioning on mobile devices such as smartphones and virtual reality headsets,” says Todd Humphreys, Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering at The University of Texas. “Low-cost centimeter-accurate positioning is viewed by many as the ‘next big thing’ in our field, making possible democratized survey-grade 3-D mapping, untethered virtual and augmented reality, and reliable, low-cost lane keeping for autonomous vehicles.”

Lukens’ impressive accomplishments in two quite distinct experimental research topics are both connected with secure optical communications. In the area of temporal cloaking, he has shown how to open up and then reclose temporal gaps in a continuous, single-frequency laser field, such that any events that take place within the temporal gaps are rendered undetectable or cloaked. He also has used pulse shaping technology to manipulate time correlation functions of entangled photon pairs (biphotons), seeking to bring modern photonic signal processing technologies to bear on problems relevant to quantum communications.

“The overall accomplishments of Lukens’ PhD dissertation are off-scale in quantity and quality and demonstrate exceedingly strong experimental and theoretical skills,” says Professor Stephen Harris, a Stanford professor whose research group has tackled related issues. “In his most recent work, Lukens and colleagues demonstrate a new technique for controlling the quantum mechanical correlation function of down-converted biphotons, a novel technique based on a property now termed as nonlocal dispersion compensation combined with the use of a variable frequency pumping laser. All of this is exceptional.”

Venkat’s innovative work in developing the theory and practice of modern information processing is leading to smarter ways to process huge quantities of data. Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) Professor Shlomo Shamai, who collaborated with Venkat on several papers, says, “Kartik has contributed to the very basic relations and connections between information and estimation. His recent work settles a challenging problem by proving that mutual information on a Gaussian channel is not adequate to characterize the full lookahead estimation performance, unlike the classical results which apply to zero lookahead (filtering) and to infinite lookahead (smoothing.)”

Young Scholar candidates are nominated by their academic advisors and selected by an international panel comprised of engineers from leading universities and companies. This year’s Young Scholars will receive their awards at the same event where Professor Peter Kirstein, considered the “father of the European Internet,” will be honored with the $100,000 Marconi Prize.

Established in 1974 by the daughter of Guglielmo Marconi, the Nobel Laureate who invented radio, the Marconi Society promotes awareness of key technology and policy issues in telecommunications and the Internet, and recognizes significant individual achievements through the Marconi Prize. More information may be found at

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Hatti Hamlin
Marconi Society
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