Engineer Roy Choudhury wins NSF Early Career Award for "Spotlight" Wireless Network Development

February 27, 2008

Romit Roy ChoudhuryDURHAM, N.C. – Assistant Professor Romit Roy Choudhury has received a 5-year, $437,000 National Science Foundation Early CAREER award. The distinction recognizes and supports the early career development activities of those teacher-scholars who are most likely to become academic leaders, according to the NSF.

Roy Choudhury came to Duke in 2006 after completing a doctorate in computer science at the University of Illinois. While at Illinois, he was among the first researchers to investigate the tremendous potential of smart antennas in wireless networking. His research resulted in new technologies that have the potential to profoundly impact wireless networks of the future. For example, smart antennas may enable much faster internet access, as well as better coverage, and improvements in security and privacy.

“A smart antenna is like a spotlight,” Roy Choudhury explains. “It forms a focused beam that can be used to precisely transmit and receive information. This opens up a new realm of possibilities, including concurrent communications, higher transmission range, better information hiding, etc. In contrast,” he said, “old school ‘dumb’ antennas are analogous to lightbulbs. You turn them on and they spread light everywhere, or in this case, interfere with all the other communications around them.”

"Security and privacy are additional advantages of antenna-aware protocols", said Roy Choudhury. “By focusing your beams intelligently, you may prevent eavesdroppers form listening to your conversation, and even jam them selectively. Such capabilities have obvious implications for national security.”

Through his NSF CAREER project, named Spotlight, Roy Choudhury plans to develop the theoretical basis for antenna-aware networking, design distributed protocols, and implement them on an experimental testbed. The outcome of the Spotlight project will be tested on Duke’s campus, as well as in The Home Depot Smart Home (, Duke’s new live-in, sustainable technology development facility.

Roy Choudhury’s broad research interests are in wireless networking, mobile computing, and distributed systems. With his academic background spanning engineering and computer science, Roy Choudhury describes himself as “a bridge between ECE and CS,” and hopes to recruit more CS students into Duke’s engineering school.

Since coming to Duke, Roy Choudhury established SyNRG - The Systems Networking Research Group. Comprising of enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate students, the group focuses on the areas of WLANs, mesh networks, sensors networks, and vehicular networks. In addition to project Spotlight, Roy Choudhury's group is also working on a project name `Micro-Blog', which enables the use of mobile phones for human-centric sensing and social networking.

Detailed description of the group's activities have been made available at