LABS Fellowship Recipients
In 2010, three students received research fellowships from the AT&T Labs Fellowship Program (ALFP).
Marcelo Worsley's interest in technology is really about how people experience technology and, more specifically, how technology can better help people learn. He's currently pursuing an education PhD at Stanford in Learning Sciences and Technology Design.
Marcelo's summer project at AT&T Research centers on multimodal interfaces that incorporate speech and gestures to make it easier and more natural for people to interact with technology. The idea is for devices to capture and interpret people's natural ways of communicating with one another. Someone using a multimodal interface should be able to point at a map while saying "this is where you need to be" and for the interface to associate the gesture with the utterance and interpret both inputs.
Futuristic as that seems, the technology exists. What's missing, and what Marcelo is focusing on, is a clear idea of what a natural interface will look like. As a result, he is working to develop a theoretical framework to support multimodal interfaces for use anywhere.
When Marcelo returns to Stanford in the fall 2011, where he and his advisor are investigating how to characterize learning, Marcelo hopes to parlay lessons from the project — specifically the capture of speech, gestures, and actions — to find new ways to continuously evaluate student progress.
At the same time, Marcelo will continue working on multimodal interfaces with his AT&T mentor (ALFP collaborations are typically long term in nature). AT&T Research will be steps closer to understanding what's required of natural interfaces, and Marcelo will have a head start on building technologies for the classroom.
Long the domain of spies and the military, cryptography is a field that is constantly evolving and requires the development of newer and more complicated ways to secure information. Different strategies are being explored with harder math problems, and this search forms the summer project of Adriana López-Alt.
Mathematics is a subject Adriana enjoys thinking about, and her otherwise serene face lights up whenever she gets the chance to talk math. She's considered herself a mathematician since high school, which for her was an all-girls high school in Bogotá, Colombia. From there she went to MIT to major in mathematics and is now enrolled in NYU's graduate school of computer science in the cryptography group.
Adriana is exploring a field known as lattice-based cryptography. She is currently focusing on constructions based on such problems, an example of which is the closest vector problem: given a multi-dimensional lattice defined by a set of vectors (called a basis), is a randomly chosen point in space close to or far from a point on the lattice? While these problems are conceptually simple, the computers of today and tomorrow would be unable to solve them without keys.
This is a field that is relatively new and Adriana is working on the cutting edge, working through problems and equations by herself and developing experience that could someday allow her to make important contributions to the field. While this work may not have real-world impact in the immediate future, as changes to security systems are comprehensive and expensive, Adriana will continue working on the cryptographic problems of the future.
AT&T Labs Fellows not only work on projects that interest them, but projects that will help AT&T to build faster, higher capacity networks. Yifan Sun is an electrical engineer and her project looks at how to build better networks using AT&T's existing infrastructure.
From high school, Yifan identified electrical engineering as a possible career choice. Of all the avenues open to someone mathematically inclined and with her wide-ranging interests (including carpentry) and extra-curricular activities, electrical engineering appealed to her for its mix of mathematics and programming, predictive modeling, and the hands-on nature of the work.
Right now, two data streams can ride one signal, but with help from Yifan, AT&T is looking to pack in even more streams. One of the major limitations to this is that while in use, vibrations and change in laser temperature can cause frequency to change. Yifan is looking to create a more predictive model to determine these changes, thus making it easier to decipher the signal at the end.
Yifan will enter UCLA in fall 2011 to study the math behind the systems she is currently working on and AT&T will continue a long term relationship with someone already making important contributions, and ones that can support the higher-capacity networks that are needed more and more.
Supporting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education
AT&T and the AT&T Foundation have given nearly $87 million to support STEM initiatives since 1995. Projects supported by AT&T contributions range from STEM scholarship programs and science/math focused summer camps for at-risk youth to hands-on technology labs and elite robotics competitions at the nation's leading universities.
In addition to its overall funding of innovative STEM programs, AT&T remains focused on improving opportunities for STEM learning in K-12 education while helping at-risk youth prepare for work in the 21st century.
AT&T's commitment to education and STEM is as much a part of our legacy as our future. AT&T Labs has a number of programs and partnerships focused on increasing the number of STEM students in the pipeline. In addition to university collaborations, AT&T Research offers internships and programs that promote STEM education. Many members of AT&T Labs Research are volunteer leaders of programs related to our historic mission of encouraging young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Learn more about these STEM programs.
Each summer, research interns from universities all over the U.S. come to AT&T Labs Research to work with individual technical staff members on research projects for 10 weeks. Students present talks on their work at the end of summer. Applicants for summer internships may be members of existing university collaboration or may apply as individuals.
AT&T Labs Fellowship Program (ALFP)
The AT&T Labs Fellowship Program (ALFP) is a three-year fellowship awarded to outstanding under-represented minority and women students pursuing doctorate studies in computing and communications-related fields. ALFP fellows are partnered with a technical staff member to serve as their mentor for the duration of the program. The ALFP fellowship, in existence since 1972, was one of the first programs aimed at women and under-represented minorities in science and technology. The completion rate is approximately 75 percent, making it one of the most successful fellowship programs.
The Young Science Achievers Program (www.ysap.org)
The Young Science Achievers Program® encourages high school students, especially minority and other students currently under-represented in those fields, to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. A nonprofit organization that evolved from the Bell Labs Science Grant Program in 1988, the program enables participating students to execute a science project with help from professional scientists who volunteer to help students formulate a budget, write a formal proposal, and then execute the project. With grants provided by the program, students purchase needed equipment and materials for the project, all of which remains with the school at the project's conclusion.
MentorNet pairs community college, undergraduate, and graduate students in STEM fields with experienced STEM professionals in industry and academia for electronic mentoring relationships. AT&T Labs scientist Mary Fernandez sits on the board of MentorNet. Since its inception in 1997, well over 100 AT&T scientists have participated in MentorNet programs. With AT&T's recent contribution, MentorNet will work with 13 selected Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with strong undergraduate programs in science and engineering as well as other HBCUs with notable STEM programs. AT&T Labs scientists also participate as mentors in the program.
The Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science in Texas (TAMEST)
AT&T's support will assist in expanding the Academy's current programs as well as add new initiatives to highlight the importance of research excellence and innovation in Texas.
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME)
AT&T is helping NACME bring the Academy of Engineering, a high school career academy program, to high schools in Anchorage, AK; Oklahoma City, OK; Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; Kansas City, MO; Milwaukee, WI; and Charlotte, NC. This program is focused on improving skills in math and science for at-risk, under-represented students. AT&T funding also provides scholarships to students who are pursuing engineering and other technical degrees at one of the 47 NACME partner universities.