UNM professor earns prestigious NSF award for research in 5G networks

Assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Dr. Eirini Eleni Tsiropoulou has been awarded the prestigious NSF CRII Award to support her continued research of the way resource management is performed in 5G networks and cyber-physical systems.


The NSF CRII Award is a highly competitive grant designed to support junior STEM faculty members to initiate independent research and establish leadership in their respective fields. The two-year, $175,000 award is granted to 55 – 60 researchers nationally per year. Tsiropoulou’s grant is effective 2019 – 2021.


“I would like to thank the NSF Director and the anonymous reviewers that supported this novel idea, as well as my research group consisting of brilliant graduate and undergraduate students that nothing could be possible without them,” Tsiropoulou said. 


Tsiropoulou says her and her research team, PROTON Lab, will examine this through a sociotechnical perspective to study how humans, or devices being operated by humans, react under risk and uncertainty in resource-constrained environments. 


“The main thing we support in this project is the autonomy in 5G networks and cyber-physical systems. How humans, or devices operated by humans, react under risk and their decision making in an autonomous manner is the main idea that we are studying. How they make decisions about optimal resource allocation in different types of networks, like smart grid networks, wireless 5G networks, and internet of things,” Tsiropoulou said.


Tsiropoulou says the two main research applications include spectrum management in 5G networks and optimal data offloading in mobile edge computing environments to improve the wireless connectivity and computing efficiency, respectively. 


“Our goal is to allocate the spectrum and determine the transmission power levels of the users in an autonomous manner and our ultimate goal is to efficiently use the limited spectrum that is available in wireless networks. The second ultimate goal is to realize the Internet of Everything by efficiently exploiting the available computing resources.” Tsiropoulou said. 


To propel this research forward, Tsiropoulou and her team will be relying on prospect theory, game theory, and reinforcement learning. 


“We use prospect theory to see how humans react when they use their own resources in cyber-physical social systems. That’s the first step, to capture humans behavior. We use game theory to allow the users to make autonomous decisions by themselves, by playing a game. A game of exchanging decisions and converging into a final optimal decision about themselves.The main idea of reinforcement learning is that the human, or device, senses the action of the environment and may make a decision and then the system gives back a reaction,” Tsiropoulou said.


Through this, Tsiropoulou says her ultimate goal is to save resources from the system to increase the capacity of the system in terms of users that can be accommodated with the same resources.


“And given that we do that more efficiently we can bring in the system more users because if you save your resources and don’t overspend them, you can bring more users to the system and give something also to them, so its like increasing the capacity of any cyber physical social system, “ says Tsiropoulou . 


Tsiropoulou says Advance at UNM played a large role in making this research possible and emphasizes their support. 


“When I first came here I applied to the Advance at UNM award for women in STEM and I got seed funding there to perform some initial research on a similar topic. For these NSF grants you have to show you’ve done preliminary work, so the seed funding that Advance at UNM gave me was extremely helpful to perform some preliminary research and build a stronger proposal to submit to NSF CRII,” Tsiropoulou said .


In the future, Tsiropoulou  and her team plan to extend their cyber-physical system research into smart cities in order to allocate physical commodities such as ambulances, firefighters, and law enforcement agencies. Smart cities are cities equipped with sensors that can detect different conditions within the city environment. 


“Our goal is to collaborate with the city of Albuquerque and the National Labs in New Mexico in order to test our frameworks and give real solutions to the citizens here,” she said.


To learn more about Tsiropoulou and her research team’s work, visit her website and follow her on Twitter.