Meet EECS graduate student Nivedita Chandrasakeran


EECS graduate student Nivedita Chandrasekaran

Where are you from and where did you complete your undergraduate studies?

I’m from San Ramon, California in the Bay Area by way of Arlington, Texas. I did my undergrad (c/o 2008) and M.Eng (c/o 2009) at MIT, left to work for a year, and came back to grad school in 2010 because I missed MIT so much. Kidding! Well, only sort of.

What is your research about and why are you excited about your projects?

I am currently a member of the Quantum Optical Communication group in RLE. My research is currently focused on evaluating the effects of atmospheric turbulence in free-space optical communication links. In addition to that project, I’m also interested in evaluating how non-maximally entangled quantum mechanical states can give us an extra oomph in terms of either the achievable data rate or achievable secure data rate when constructing quantum communication links.

I am REALLY excited about my research for THREE REASONS:

  1. I get to use my knowledge of physics and EE to push the boundaries of what regular classical communication theory tells us is possible
  2. My research is essentially IMMEDIATELY APPLICABLE! which is  awesome, as (almost) instant gratification isn’t a word a person typically associates with theoretical research. Well, where instant = on the order of 3-5 years. CLOSE ENOUGH.
  3. I get to do math/statistics/physics all day and GET PAID FOR IT. You jealous?

What do you like to do outside of research and academics?

Things I like to do:

  • cooking (Indian food, Thai food, Vietnamese food, Chinese food) delicious ovo-lacto-vegetarian meals with the local produce I am due to get from my farm share! Hurrah.
  • baking! I just got a copy of Tartine’s recipe book, and my goal for the summer is to conquer puff pastry and tart crusts. then, onto piped pastries!
  • mandolin lessons – this is a future plan once my summer lessons start, but hopefully I’ll get proficient enough to play my favorite country and bluegrass tunes.
  • reading copious amounts of science fiction and fantasy – I have a hunch that this is basically required for everyone who joins the EECS department. I KID! Mostly.
  • reading COMIC BOOKS. Really, what better way to spend a day?

What are your career goals and future plans?

I’d like to end up in a national research lab or just any research lab, period, where I can keep working on quantum communication research and collaborate with other people in my field. Ideally, I’d like to join a startup since that would essentially combine the environment of smart people working on a bit of a time crunch with the bonus of building a product that would have to be economically feasible…but the economically feasible part is what throws a bit of a hitch in the plan, as it’s not easy to build a free-space optical communication link from scratch, much less one that utilizes nonclassical states. Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon.

>> read about more EECS graduate students