Meet our postdocs: Sam and Ruijie

Our postdoctoral researchers are the powerhouse of TRANSNET, actively progressing our research and guiding other members of the team to do the same so that we can achieve our mission of transforming the optical network. They are essential to the success of the programme – the diligence, creativity and teamwork that goes into every TRANSNET output stems from them, and we are so grateful for their efforts. Get to know a bit more about two of our postdocs, Dr Sam Nallaperuma and Dr Ruijie Luo, below.

Sam Nallaperuma

SN article profileDr Sam Nallaperuma is based at our Cambridge site and joined the TRANSNET Programme as a postdoctoral researcher in March 2020. Prior to this, Sam contributed to the algorithm analysis of artificial intelligence (AI) and applications of AI to transport networks working as a research fellow as part of an industry collaboration project. 

What interests you most about the TRANSNET Programme?

I like the fact that the programme bridges two diverse research fields, artificial intelligence and optical networks, bringing together experts from both areas to build novel optical networks to serve the data demands of the future world. And integrates valuable feedback and collaborations from industry partners.

What do you do as part of the TRANSNET team?

I am part of Research Theme 1, developing intelligent networks. I am currently applying AI for network parameter optimisation and data-driven modelling of optical networks. To this end, I am currently working on operational parameter optimisation in dynamic settings and data-driven physical layer abstraction in collaboration with Josh Nevin, Nikita Shevchenko, Zak Shabka, Seb Savory, and George Zervas. As a computer scientist with an AI background, I am responsible for contributing to the development of AI-based techniques. I am also responsible for maintaining TRANSNET Virtual Lab (TVL) as the Cambridge TVL representative, collaborating with the TVL team Eric Sillekens, Kari Clark, Anastasiia Vasylchenkova, Morteza Kamalian-Kopae and Yannis Andreopoulos.

Discover more: Parameter Optimisation for Ultra-Wideband Optical Networks in the Presence of Stimulated Raman Scattering Effect (ONDM Conference 2021).

What is your favourite research tool or piece of equipment?

The High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster here at the University of Cambridge. My research often involves computationally intensive simulations and our HPC cluster enables me to obtain results much faster – great for paper deadlines!

What is the secret to a successful postdoc?

For me, it’s the choice of the research topic. When we work on something we are really interested in, we can progress with a positive attitude despite the technical or other challenges we might face.

Why did you pursue a postdoc over other career options?

I like the freedom and creativity of choosing my research direction compared to the more constrained problems one is given to solve when working in industry.

If you could change one thing about postdoc life, what would it be?

Research-wise, working as a postdoc is perfect for me as I can solve research problems that interest me the most while collaborating with great minds, but I do think postdoc salaries in the UK should be more competitive. I sometimes find myself fighting the temptation to move into industry over my love for academia and the freedom it gives me to do my favourite research.

Ruijie Luo

RL article profileDr Ruijie Luo is from the Optical Networks Group at UCL and has been a postdoc on TRANSNET since December 2019. He enjoys the all-levels approach (from devices to systems) of TRANSNET research and getting to collaborate with colleagues across the programme. 

Before joining the programme (and UCL) Ruijie was pursuing his PhD at Tsinghua University in Beijing, working on synchronised control mechanisms for optical networks and their applications to improve the speed of lightpath configuration to support high-dynamic applications. 

What are you currently researching?

I work on RT1: Intelligent Network Architectures and Topologies. I work closely with Robin Matzner, Ottino Alessandro, Georgios Zervas, Polina Bayvel, here at UCL, alongside Yi-Zhi Xu and David Saad at Aston.

We look at optical network topology design, dynamic routing and resource assignment, throughput estimation, etc. My role includes developing ideas, methodologies, building platforms for these research topics, coordinating researchers, and writing corresponding communication materials to improve the impact of our research.

Top papers: 

What is your favourite research tool or piece of equipment?

Robin and I built a network toolbox which means everyone can conduct network simulations without duplicating basic work. It is efficient to run it on servers, which significantly accelerates our research.

What motivates you as a postdoc?

The desire of exploring unknown principles in optical networks, developing intelligent optical networks to support future communication applications, and working with a group of talented researchers to improve my own skills.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like travelling, swimming, table tennis, badminton, pop music, and attending parties.

Describe postdoc life in three words?

Explore. Pursue. Enjoy.

To discover more about our work, please take a look at the TRANSNET publications page.