Dina Katabi has been selected for the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. In announcing this appointment, Department Head Anantha Chandraksan shared the following message with his colleagues in the EECS Department.
It is my pleasure to announce the appointment of Prof. Dina Katabi as the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Professor Katabi is an ideal candidate for this professorship, given her outstanding technical contributions and leadership in wired and wireless networks. The honor of being the Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is also held by Prof. Daniela Rus. Both appointments reflect the exceptional leadership set by Dr. Viterbi as a pioneer in the communications field.
Dina's research covers a broad range of research topics related to wireless systems, and her work is characterized by a rare combination of building and deploying practical systems, coupled to rigorous formal analysis. She has authored or co-authored many award-winning and highly cited papers in top networking and telecommunications conferences, and is widely recognized both nationally and internationally as a star among networking researchers. Dina’s research toolkit is very broad, as she frequently adapts methods from various fields of applied mathematics such as control theory, queuing theory, and machine learning to solve problems in computer networks. She breaks boundaries separating CS and EE disciplines, and optimizes systems across network abstraction layer boundaries. Dina has been recognized by several awards, including recently the 2012 Grace Murray Hopper Award for advances in network efficiency, a 2013 MacArthur award, and as a 2013 ACM Fellow.
In collaboration with Prof. Muriel Medard, Dina Katabi is known for early demonstrations of practical wireless systems exploiting network coding, a method to increase network capacity that was promising but primarily of theoretical interest until that time. She also came up with an innovative solution to the classic “hidden terminal problem.” Dina’s approach allows two colliding 802.11 packets to be decoded correctly, without loss of efficiency, and without any requirement for power control or special coding. The paper describing this idea, in an implementation called ZigZag, and an evaluation on a wireless network testbed, received the Best Paper Award at SIGCOMM 2008, the premier conference in computer communications. She has also developed an efficient security approach for implanted wireless medical devices. In such devices, wireless transmissions are typically insecure, allowing eavesdropping, or even intentional device sabotage. Dina and her group devised a solution: a wearable device that acts as a firewall and sets up a secure channel with the base station. This work also received a best paper prize at SIGCOMM, in 2011.
In addition to being an outstanding researcher, Dina has demonstrated exceptional leadership. In collaboration with Prof. Hari Balakrishnan, she started the new Wireless@MIT Center hosted in CSAIL. The center includes about 40 MIT professors and graduate students and has several major industry partners. She has also served as the Program Co-Chair of ACM Mobicom 2010 and Usenix NSDI 2012.
Dina is a dedicated educator and a wonderful mentor to her students. She has been involved with a number of courses, including 6.02, 6.033, 6.263, 6.829, and 6.888. Most recently, she has been involved as a lecturer in 6.033, one of the largest undergraduate classes. She developed a new graduate level class, 6.888, that focuses on labs and hands-on experience with wireless networks, where students develop the full baseband of OFDM systems. Her graduate students have taken faculty positions in top universities.