My research group at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, at Northeastern University, is addressing a broad spectrum of problems involving electromagnetic waves and information. Of much interest to us are problems at the crossroads of electromagnetics, optics, imaging, signal processing, wireless communications (physical layer and information theoretic aspects), and related areas. The group has a versatile capability, with expertise in a broad range of wave and signal processing problems including both direct (forward) and inverse wave problems, in both time (e.g., ultrawideband) and frequency domain frameworks. The capability is mostly analytical and computational, but also includes some optical experiments in compressive optics. We are constantly in the search for new, exciting problems, having theoretical, computational, and/or practical motivations. The overall goal is to effectively impact the state of knowledge in the fields of electromagnetics, optics, imaging, wave-based signal processing and communications, and related areas, and to contribute through the thus generated new knowledge to the development and advancement of practical technologies and applications, with focus on those involving new, creative manipulation of waves and information which is the focus area of the group.
Research is the search for knowledge and truth by the proven scientific methodologies. In engineering, a successful research process leads to the generation of new knowledge impacting the state of the art. The research component is the most important and defining feature of an academician. It continuously invigorates our knowledge. It leads to grants through which we constantly re-nourish our own programs as well as synergistic programs within our Departments and other academic communities. In research we also serve our profession by solving relevant questions and problems. Research can also serve through special programs with social and educational orientation. In research there is also the teaching of knowledge, creative tools and values from the professor to the disciple via serious intellectual discourse related to the research challenges. This is most fundamentally the case at the graduate level, when a student becomes exposed both to advanced knowledge and ideas and to creative ways of independently formulating and solving problems. The main goal of this aspect of an educator's work is to prepare very professionally competent Master and Ph.D. students with a strong background, unique creative insights, a solid work ethics and the genuine desire and willingness to pursue challenging goals within the disciplines of their interest.
I put a lot of effort into mentoring and advising students. As research advisor, I provide constant encouragement and guidance to the students in all aspects of their academic growth. I prepare my students with the specific aim that, by the end of their training, they will have acquired a high level of knowledge, practical expertise, methodology, confidence and work values with which they will be able to succeed as future researchers, teachers and authors in the field of Electrical Engineering. A genuine and honest search for the truth is emphasized as the most prominent value. This and the everyday practice of the research duties leads the students to critically judge the course of their own research, to assess the different research challenges, the validity and feasibility of available solution strategies, the conclusiveness of the results as well as their applicability and relevance. I also encourage them to be in position to suggest promising future avenues including alternative approaches and new applications. Intense exposure to the technical literature nourishes both their knowledge and their creative thinking tools, while periodic oral and written presentations (describing, e.g., research aims, approaches and solutions), strengthen their communication skills and the clarity and depth of their thoughts. The periodic meetings both reinforce known concepts and create new fresh frontiers, while accelerating a steady convergence toward the realization of the different research goals.
The following students graduated after doing thesis research under my direction:
I am a strong advocate for undergraduate research. To me, research is, in fact, an important part of the entire teaching process resulting from the information-exchange and knowledge-generating interactions of students and educators, which I perceive as a whole, in all its integral components and experience.
Essentially, in all my approach to education I implement the fundamental process of "learning by doing", and undergraduate education is a key component of this program. By feeding curiosity while teaching the tools and creative methodologies for the solution of open research problems, we then give our undergraduate students a richer experience than by exposure to knowledge alone. Furthermore, then the student is an active participator (rather than only a passive receptor) of the entire family and knowledge-producting, light-shedding machinery that is a university, and Academia as a whole.
In fact, some of my current graduate students worked with me in the past as undergraduate researchers. They have done a superb job at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. I am convinced that this is largely due to that early exposure to research, to the "learning to solve an open problem" mentality which is integral to research, and which complements the more conventional "learning to pass a test" or "to demonstrate knowledge" ideology of the structured part of the study curriculum.
The following are some of the students who have worked as undergraduate research assistants in my lab:
I was mentor and research advisor to the capstone group of G. Black, S. Gillette, M. Hollenbeck, L. Shaheen, and J. Schunick, on their project titled 'A free-form, 3-dimensional control interface' (demonstration date: April 2009). This project was awarded First Place in the 2009 ECE Capstone Project Competition, Northeastern University.
Prof. Fernando Merchan from the Technological University of Panama. Research collaboration visit, on compressive imaging and 3D television. January-March 2011.
Prof. Mats Gustafsson from Lund University, Sweeden. Research collaboration visit, on electromagnetic signal processing. July-Aug. 2012.