UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering


About Us

The Optical Networks Group at UCL is a world-renowned research team led by Professor Polina Bayvel. Learn more about our current members, working with us and our alumni.


Work with us


Learn more about our current team, including our academic staff and post-doctoral and PhD researchers as well as our visiting and honorary members.

Academic Staff 

Professor Polina Bayvel - Head of the Optical Networks Group / Prof. of Optical Communications

Head shot of Polina Bayvel


Professor Polina Bayvel is the Head of the Optical Networks Group at UCL which she also set up in 1994. Her research interests are in the area of optical communications and include wavelength-routed optical networks, high-speed optical transmission, and the study and mitigation of fibre nonlinearities. She was one of the first to show the feasibility of using the wavelength domain for routing in optical networks, and designed wavelength-selective devices needed for their characterisation and implementation. More recently she has focused on the study of capacity limits in nonlinear optical networks and optical networks for the cloud. She has authored or co-authored more than 350 refereed journal and conference papers.

Polina Bayvel received her BSc (Eng) and PhD degrees in Electronic & Electrical Engineering from University of London, UK, in 1986 and 1990, respectively. In 1990, she was with the Fiber Optics Laboratory, General Physics Institute, Moscow (formerly USSR, now Russian Academy of Sciences), under the Royal Society Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship. She was a Principal Systems Engineer with STC Submarine Systems Ltd, London, UK, and Nortel Networks (Harlow, UK, and Ottawa, ON, Canada), where she was involved in the design and planning of optical fibre transmission networks. During 1994-2004, she held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship at University College London (UCL), and in 2002, she was appointed to a Chair in Optical Communications and Networks.

Professor Bayvel is a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), Optical Society of America (FOSA), Institute of Electronic & Electrical Engineers (FIEEE), the UK Institute of Physics (IoP), and the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET). She was the recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2007-2012), the 2013 IEEE Photonics Society Engineering Achievement Award, the 2014 Royal Society Clifford Patterson Prize Lecture and Medal, and in 2015 together with five members of her group, she received the Royal Academy of Engineering Colin Campbell Mitchell Award for 'pioneering contributions to optical communications technology'.

She was the PI of the UK EPSRC Programme Grant UNLOC (2012-2018), focused on unlocking - and maximising - the capacity of optical communications, and now leads the TRANSNET Programme Grant (2018-2024).

She was awarded CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2017 New Year's Honours List for services to engineering.  

Dr Alejandra Beghelli - Lecturer in Optical Communications and Networks

Head shot of Alejandra Beghelli
Alejandra Beghelli received her B.Eng degree, professional title and M.Sc. degree in electronic engineering from Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria, Chile, in 1994, 1996 and 2001, respectively. Later, she received her PhD degree in electronic engineering from University College London, UK, in 2006. 


From 1997 to 2012, Dr Beghelli held different academic and management positions at Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. In 2012 she was a Visiting Scholar to Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italy. During the period 2008-2016, she was an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London, UK.

From 2013 to 2020 she was an Associate Professor at Universidad Adolfo Ibañez and from 2019-2020 she spent a sabbatical year working as a lecturer at the Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London and a Visiting Scholar at City, University of London. Since August 2020, she is a Lecturer in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London, UK. 

Dr Beghelli has been the recipient of several academic excellence and teaching awards as well as scholarships, being the most important the IEEE LEOS Graduate Fellowship by the IEEE Photonics Society, the MH Joseph Prize by the British Federation of Women Graduates, Presidente de la República Scholarship by the Chilean government and the Outstanding Teacher Award by UTFSM.

Her current research topics include research allocation in optical networks, reinforcement learning applied to optical networking and creativity in engineering. 

Dr Filipe M. Ferreira - UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

Head shot of Filipe Ferreira
Filipe M. Ferreira received a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Coimbra, Portugal, in 2014 for his work on high capacity optical transmission systems based on mode division multiplexing.


During this time, he worked as a Research Engineer for the optical networks Research & Technology division of Coriant (former Nokia Siemens Networks), leading activities on the EU-FP7 research project MODEGAP, including: few-mode fibres nonlinear modelling and profile design, advanced optical links design and simulation. 

In 2015 he was awarded a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship to carry out research on space division multiplexing. During this fellowship, he investigated the linear and nonlinear coupling mechanisms in fibres for spatial division multiplexing, and the opportunities for digital back-propagation.

Filipe joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as a Senior Research Fellow in October 2019 to work on the EPSRC TRANSNET project, working on the development of intelligent transceivers aimed at better approaching the nonlinear Shannon limit in typical optical fibre networks.

In October 2020 Filipe was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship to develop new technologies capable of establishing thousands of parallel optical paths over a single optical fibre strand which will dramatically expand the capacity of the Internet. The project aims to produce a new photonic processor that merges photonic integrated circuits and machine learning so that large-scale spatial parallelism can be achieved within every optical fibre.

Contact email: f.ferreira@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Lidia Galdino - Royal Academy of Engineering Fellow / Proleptic Lecturer

Dr Lidia Galdino received her MSc and PhD degrees in electronic and electrical engineering from the University of Campinas, Brazil, in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

Dr Galdino commenced a lectureship and a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship in September 2018 on the topic of "Capacity-approaching, Ultra-Wideband Nonlinear Optical Fibre Transmission System", and is a co-investigator on the EPSRC TRANSNET Programme grant. She previously worked as a Senior Research Associate on the EPSRC UNLOC programme grant.

She is part of the Technical Programme Committee for the Conference on Optical Communication (ECOC), the Optical Fibre Communication Conference (OFC), the IEEE Photonics Conference (IPC), and the Advanced Photonics Conference (NETWORKS meeting). She served as Associate Vice President of IEEE's Women in Photonics (2018-2020) and has been elected to the Board of Governors of the IEEE Photonics Society (2021-2023).

Dr Galdino was a co-recipient of the Royal Academy of Engineering Colin Campbell Mitchell Award in 2015 for pioneering contributions to optical communications technology and was named as one of the 2017 "Top 50 Women in Engineering under 35" by The Telegraph and Women in Engineering Society which features the UK’s top rising female stars of engineering.

Publication data:

Awards and Fundings:

  • Royal Academy of Engineering Fellowship (2018-2023)
  • Top 50 Women in Engineers under 35, which features the UK’s top rising female stars of engineering (2017)
  • Co-recipient of Royal Academy of Engineering Colin Campbell Mitchell Award for "our pioneering contributions to optical communications technology" (2015) 
  • Brazilian Science without Borders Fellowship to join the Optical Networks Group (ONG) at University College London (2013)
  • PhD studentship funded by National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) 
  • Master’s degree funded by Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). 

Contact email: l.galdino@ucl.ac.uk 

Professor Robert Killey - Professor in Optical Communications

Robert Killey received his BEng degree in Electronic and Communications Engineering from the University of Bristol in 1992 and an MSc in Microwaves and Optoelectronics from UCL in 1994. He received a DPhil degree from the University of Oxford in 1998. His doctoral work was on InGaAsP Fabry–Perot optical modulators and their applications in soliton communications.

He has been a member of the academic staff at UCL since 2000 and is currently a co-investigator on the EPSRC TRANSNET project; a multidisciplinary research programme investigating intelligent resource allocation in dynamic optical networks

Dr Killey is an Associate Editor of the IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology and the IEEE Photonics journal, and has served on the Technical Programme Committees of OFC and ECOC. He was a recipient of the 2015 Royal Academy of Engineering 2015 Colin Campbell Award and is a Senior Member of the IEEE.

Current research interests:

  • Modelling and experimental investigations of the effects of fibre nonlinearity on high bit-rate WDM data transmission
  • Simplified direct detection and coherent optical transceivers
  • The applications of digital signal processing for transmission impairment mitigation in high capacity optical communication systems

Contact email: rkilley@ee.ucl.ac.uk 

Dr Zhixin Liu - Associate Professor in Optical Communications and Networks

Head shot of Zhixin Liu
Zhixin Liu received his PhD degree in Information Engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in 2012. After a short start-up experience, he joined the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University of Southampton in 2013 and became a Senior Research Fellow in 2015. In 2016, he joined the optical networks group at the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at UCL and became an Associate Professor in 2021. Dr Liu is a senior member of both IEEE and Optica (formerly OSA).


His research areas are optical signal processing and its applications in communication systems and scientific equipment. He has pioneered new techniques for high precision data conversion and low-latency data communications that have led to several world-first demonstrations. Dr Liu has co-authored more than 100 papers in international peer-reviewed journals and conferences, with several high-profile papers in Nature Electronics, Nature Communications, eight invited papers to the IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology as well as top-ranked publications in leading optical communication conferences (OFC and ECOC), including seven post-deadline papers.

Dr Liu is regularly invited to speak at leading international conferences and serves on the technical programme committees of CLEO-PR, OECC and ACP. He also holds two patents, with one licenced to a leading industrial manufacturer. Dr Liu has been a PI on more than ten grants from Industry and Research Councils, totalling over £1.7M. He is al a co-investigator on the £6.1m EPSRC Programme grant TRANSNET.

His research interests include: 

  • High-performance frequency comb
  • Coherent signal processing
  • Low-latency, low-power consumption transceivers for data centre interconnects
  • Integrated photonic circuits for communication systems 

Current projects: 

Past projects:


  • Callum Deakin
  • Ronit Sohanpal
  • Zichuan Zhou

Research Fellows:

  • Kari Clark
  • Mu-Chieh Lo
  • Temitope Odedeyi

Contact email: zhixin.liu@ucl.ac.uk 


Dr Alfonso Ruocco - Lecturer in Optical Communications and Networks

Head shot of Alfonso Ruocco
Alfonso Ruocco is currently a Lecturer in Optical Communications and Networks in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University College London. He received his MEng in Electronic Engineering from the Federico II University of Naples in 2011 and his PhD in Photonics Engineering from the University of Ghent/IMEC in 2016, where he explored novel high complexity integrated photonic circuits.

He was subsequently appointed as a Postdoctoral Associate within the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he investigated novel CMOS-compatible integrated photonics systems for metrology and communication systems. Following this, Alfonso held the position of Research Associate and Senior Research Associate within the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, where he investigated novel hybrid nanomaterials/CMOS-compatible photonic platforms for communication systems and ultrafast photonics.

Alfonso’s current research interests include integrated photonic systems implemented on high index contrast platforms, photonic transceivers, ultrafast and quantum photonics.

Contact email: a.ruocco@ucl.ac.uk
Dr Georgios Zervas - Professor of Optical Networked Systems, EPSRC Fellow

Head shot of George Zervas
George Zervas is currently Professor of Optical Networked Systems in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at University College London. He received his MEng degree in Electronic and Telecommunication Systems Engineering with distinction and PhD degree in optical networks from the University of Essex in 2003 and 2009 respectively. Following this, George held the positions of Research Associate and subsequently Research Fellow and Lecturer as a member of the High-Performance Networks Group at the University of Essex where he investigated multi-granular optical switching. 


Between 2012-16 he was appointed Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Bristol where he led the research activities on optical networked systems with an emphasis on optical switching, flexible and space division multiplexed networking, programmable electronic and optical hardware as well as data centre systems. He also held the position of Visiting Associate Professor at Keio University, Tokyo. He is the recipient of the prestigious 5-year Fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) within Information and Communications Technology in the U.K. 

He is the author and co-author of over 275 international peer-reviewed journal and conference papers including numerous prestigious post-deadline papers at ECOC/OFC as well as best paper awards. He has also given over 40 invited talks at several international conferences. His research interests lie in the fields of optical networked systems for data centres, high-performance computing and telecoms with a particular focus on optical switched interconnects, topologies, control, architectures and compute and network co-design. 

George has been involved in several current and past EC and EPSRC and industrial funded projects as principal and co-investigator. He has been a Technical Programme Committee member on international conferences such as OFC, ICC, Globecom, ONDM and ACP. He is an associate editor of IEEE Networking Letters and has been serving as guest associate editor on IEEE JOCN. Dr Zervas has been involved in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Open Grid Forum (OGF) standardisation fora. George is also a member of the EPSRC Peer Review Associate College and has served as an expert reviewer in other non-UK national funding bodies.

George is currently an EPSRC Fellow (OptoCloud) and co-investigator on the TRANSNET programme grant. His research has been funded and supported by industry partners including Microsoft, Huber+Suhner Polatis, British Telecom, Sumitomo Electric, II-VI, Xilinx and Micron.

For more information please visit my personal website

Contact email: g.zervas@ucl.ac.uk 

Google Scholar  

Post-doctoral Researchers

Dr Fabio Barbosa

Head shot of Fabio Barbosa
Fabio Barbosa received his PhD from the University of Campinas (Unicamp, Brazil) where he investigated digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms for coherent optical receivers employed in transmissions with probabilistic constellation shaping. 

He joined the Optical Networks Group in August 2021 as a post-doctoral researcher on the project ‘Beyond Exabit Optical Communications’ led by Dr Filipe Ferreira. Fabio is responsible for the development of DSP strategies, coding and detection methods to enable the efficient use of transmission resources. 

Contact email: fabio.barbosa@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Joshua Benjamin

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Coming soon. 
Dr Kari Clark

Head shot of Kari Clark
Kari Clark joined the Optical Networks Group in 2014 to pursue a PhD in optical communications under the supervision of Dr Zhixin Liu. His doctoral research, which he completed in 2020, focused on using central optical synchronisation to achieve sub-nanosecond clock and data recovery times in future optically switched data centre networks.


In 2016, he completed a 9-month internship at Microsoft Research Cambridge, applying his research in an industrial context. In 2018, he was the lead author on a post-deadline research paper at ECOC on sub-nanosecond clock and data recovery, and was judged the overall winner of the EPSRC Connected Nation Pioneers, a national competition for PhD students. 

Kari joined the TRANSNET Programme as a post-doc in May 2021 where he's developing future synchronous transceivers for data centre and access applications and testing them in real-time transmission beds. 

Research interests:

  • Central synchronisation for optically switched data centre networks
  • Optical clock distribution schemes
  • Thermal sensitivity of delay of optical fibre and implications for synchronisation
  • Multi-gigabit FPGA serial transceivers

Contact email: kari.clark.14@ucl.ac.uk


Dr Mu-Chieh Lo

Coming soon.

Dr Ruijie Luo

Head shot of Ruijie Luo
Ruijie Luo received his PhD degree from Tsinghua University, China, in 2019 for his work in synchronised control mechanisms for optical networks and their applications.

After graduation, he continued his research at Tsinghua University aiming at improving optical network dynamics by reducing lightpath setup latencies.
Ruijie joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as a Research Fellow in December 2019 to work on the EPSRC TRANSNET project. He is currently developing intelligent optical network architectures and seeking the general rules of network capacity, latency etc. under the nonlinear fibre optic regimes.  

Research interests:
  • Intelligent optical networks
  • Network modelling and optimization
  • Synchronized control mechanism for optical networks

Contact email: ruijie.luo@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Eric Sillekens

Head shot of Eric Sillekens
Eric is a post-doctoral researcher as part of the TRANSNET Programme, supervised by Dr Robert Killey. Eric is working to holistically optimise long-haul fibre transmission systems, where his interest is in coded modulation and machine learning. He has designed modulation formats with a trade-off between fibre nonlinearity and shaping gain.

Eric received his BSc and MSc in electrical engineering from the Eindhoven University of Technology in 2012 and 2015 respectively, with his research focussed on advanced coded modulation for optical fibre transmission systems.

Research interests:

  • Coded modulation
  • Transceiver digital signal processing
  • Machine learning


  • Sillekens et al., 'An Experimental Comparison of Coded Modulation Strategies for 100 Gbit/s Transceivers', Journal of Lightwave Technology (2016)
  • Sillekens et al., 'A Simple Nonlinearity-Tailored Probabilistic Shaping Distribution for Square QAM', Optical Fiber Communication Conference (2018)
  • Sillekens et al., 'Experimental Demonstration of Geometrically-Shaped Constellations Tailored to the Nonlinear Fibre Channel', European Conference on Optical Communication (2018)

Contact email: e.sillekens@ucl.ac.uk

Dr Anastasiia Vasylchenkova - Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow

Head shot of Anastasiia Vasylchenkova
Anastasiia Vasylchenkova is currently a Leverhulme Trust Research, running a project on the analytical modelling of ultrawideband optical communication. She received her BSc and MSc degrees in nuclear physics from Kharkiv National University, Ukraine in 2014 and 2016, respectively. Anastasiia was awarded her PhD degree from Aston University, Birmingham in 2020 for her research within the nonlinear Fourier transform approach for optical communications. Her research interests include fibre optics, nonlinearity mitigation, analytical modelling and transmission system design.

Anastasiia is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and the UK representative of the International Physicists' Tournament. She has extensive experience delivering outreach activities across STEM and photonics communities, including engagement through SPIE, IEEE, and OSA. She is a Committee Member of the IEEE Photonics UK and Ireland Photonics Chapter, serving as the Publicity Officer. Anastasiia is also the chair-elect of the OSA Optical Communication Technical Group.

Google Scholar

Contact email: a.vasylchenkova@ucl.ac.uk

PhD Students  

Hadi Alkharsan

Hadi Alkharsan in the Connet lab

Hadi Alkharsan graduated with first-class Honours in Electronic Engineering and Telecommunications (BEng) from Queen Mary University of London in 2015. He then pursued a Telecommunications MSc here at UCL and graduated with a Distinction. After this, Hadi worked for British Telecommunications (BT) as a Network Designer and Tester within the Global MPLS and Mobile IP networks.

From there, he received funding from the University of Cambridge and UCL Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for a 4-year PhD programme in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems. Hadi joined the Optical Networks Group in October 2020 and is supervised by Dr George Zervas. He is investigating artificial intelligence techniques and algorithms to optimise optical switching and networking techniques for high-performance computing applications.

Contact email: hadi.alkharsan.15@ucl.ac.uk 

Henrique Buglia

Head shot of Henrique Buglia

Henrique Buglia joined the Optical Networks Group as a PhD researcher in February 2021 under the supervision of Dr Lidia Galdino. He is working on modelling ultra-wideband optical fibre transmission systems, with a focus on the nonlinearities that arise when ultra-wideband signals are used to transmit information. He is also developing and applying digital signal processing and machine learning techniques to mitigate the nonlinear distortion in ultra-wideband transmission.

Prior to joining ONG, Henrique completed his master's degree at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in Brazil, working on digital communication, coding theory, lattices and groups.

Contact email: henrique.buglia.20@ucl.ac.uk 

Farah Comis

Head shot of Farah Comis
Farah Comis was awarded an MEng in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from University College London (UCL) with a first-class Hons. (2016-2020). She joined the University of Cambridge and UCL Centre for Doctoral Traning in Connected Electronic and Photonic Systems in September 2020. Farah obtained an MRes degree with Distinction from the University of Cambridge. During her master's degree, Farah carried out two research projects: the first with Dr Alfonso Ruocco working on the optimised design of lithium niobate Kerr comb generators, and the second with Professor Richard Penty (university of Cambridge) where she worked on the optimised design of III-V/SOI adiabatic tapered couplers using the heteroepitaxial growth technique.


In September 2021 Farah joined the Optical Networks Group as a PhD student. She is currently working on lithium niobate on insulator (LNOI) integrated photonics, under the supervision of Dr Alfonso Ruocco.

Her research interests include: 

  • Integrated photonics systems with implementation on high index contrast platforms
  • Photonic transceivers
  • Optical neural networks  
  • Quantum integrated circuits

Contact: farah.comis.16@ucl.ac.uk 

Callum Deakin

Callum Deakin
Callum Deakin was awarded an MSc in Physics from Imperial College London in 2017 and joined the UCL-Cambridge IPES CDT soon after, completing his MRes in 2018. Research projects during his MRes included the development of perovskite-GaN hybrid materials for photonic applications and a study into the potential of beam steering switches for multicore fibres.


In October 2018 he joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as an MPhil/PhD student. He is currently working on optical transceivers for data centre interconnections under the supervision of Dr Zhixin Liu.

Research interests include: ​

  • Analogue optical signal
  • Optical frequency combs and their
  • Transceivers for data centre interconnections

Contact email: callum.deakin.17@ucl.ac.uk 

Hubert Dzieciol

Hubert Dzieciol graduated from Northumbria University in June 2018 with a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. His work focuses on investigating whether ultra-fast optical switching in combination with coherent detection and simplified digital signal processing will be an enabling technology for the continued scaling of data centre network bandwidth.

Hubert’s PhD is part of the TRANSNET programme in collaboration with Microsoft Research in Cambridge. 

Contact email: hubert.dzieciol.18@ucl.ac.uk 

Mindaugas Jarmolovicius

Mindaugas Jarmolovicius completed an integrated MEng at UCL in 2021, working on projects on the design and implementation of novel CPU architecture and the digital implementation of end-to-end machine learning in optical communication systems. He joined the Optical Networks in October 2021 as a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Robert Killey. Mindaugas is working on optical communication channel simulations, exploring novel neural networks for transmission optimisation suited for real-time transmission and its digital implementation. 

His research interests include: 

  • Machine learning and neural networks
  • Digital and hardware design
  • Coherent optical system simulations

Contact email: min.jarmolovicius.17@ucl.ac.uk 

Kumail Kermalli

Kumail Kermalli joined University College London (UCL) in 2016 to read Physics. He graduated with a first-class (Hons) MSci degree in 2020, receiving the Burhop Prize and a place on the 2020 Dean’s List. His final year project investigated the deformation of microemulsions using optical tweezers.

After graduating Kumail continued at UCL, joining the EPSRC CDT in Delivering Quantum Technologies in September 2020. His MRes project involved simulating light matter enhancement structures for integrated quantum memory applications.

In September 2021, Kumail joined the Optical Networks Group as a PhD student. His research project focuses on developing an integrated quantum memory based on rare-earth ions for use in a quantum network. The project is supervised by Dr Alfonso Ruocco with BT as an industry partner.

Kumail’s research interests include:

  • Quantum networks
  • Integrated quantum photonics
  • Optical quantum memories
  • Scalable quantum technologies

 Contact email: kumail.kermalli.16@ucl.ac.uk 

Robin Matzner

Head shot of Robin Matzner
Robin was awarded an MEng in Electronic Engineering from the University of Exeter in 2019. Whilst studying there he undertook a bachelors dissertation looking into damage detection using vibration feature extraction and Mahalanobis distances to classify faults in vibration data, as well as a master's dissertation working on a hardware and software platform viable for intelligent swarm robotics. Whilst studying at the University of Exeter, Robin also worked as a Junior Electronic Engineer at Dashboard LTD, an AI and IoT startup service provider, where he worked on vibration sensing, data extraction, as well as wireless communications for wind turbine condition monitoring.


Robin joined the Optical Networks Group as an MPhil/PhD student in October 2019, where he works on the possibilities of increasing throughput of physically modelled optical networks via ML and AI methodologies. His research interests include:

  • Physical modelling of optical channels within networks models
  • AI and ML methodologies for complex optimization problems

Contact email: robin.matzner.19@ucl.ac.uk

Xun Mu

Head shot of Xun Mu
Xun Mu graduated from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China with a BEng in Optoelectronic Information Engineering in 2015. She then obtained an MSc in Nanophotonics from the University of Strasbourg in France.


In 2017, she joined UCL to pursue an MRes in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems. Since October 2018, Xun has been a part of the Optical Networks Group as a PhD candidate under the supervision of Dr Georgios Zervas.

Her research interests include: 

  • Scalable and Intelligent Optical Network Systems
  • Designing and modelling of scalable space division multiplexed technologies
  • Specialty SDM fibres and switches with Artificial Intelligence methods 

Contact email: xun.mu.17@ucl.ac.uk

Luka Mustafa

Image and info coming soon. 

Alessandro Ottino

Alessandro Ottino in the Connet lab
Alessandro joined University College London (UCL) in 2016 to begin a BEng degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, which he completed in 2019 with outstanding academic achievement. Whilst a second-year undergrad he joined ONG as a summer research assistant, under the supervision of Dr Georgios Zervas, developing algorithms to optimise FPGA controlled electro-optical transceivers jointly. This research lead to an accepted paper at the OFC conference of the following year. During his final year of study, he continued working with ONG, a collaboration that led him to win the first UCL Cullen Prize for best undergraduate poster presentation as well as the UCL IEEE Best Final Year Project in Telecommunications. 


In 2019, he was awarded a Microsoft Research PhD studentship under the academic supervision of Dr Georgios Zervas and the industrial supervision of Dr Paolo Costa (Microsoft Research). He is working on datacentre topologies and technologies for distributed machine learning. 

Alessandro's research interests include:

•    Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
•    Distributed Learning
•    Disaggregated Datacenter
•    SDM networks and characterization
•    Optimization Algorithms

Microsoft Research PhD Scholarship Programme, Optics for the Cloud.

Research Studentship Title:
Optical Fabric for Zero-latency memory disaggregation at Pb/s cluster-scale network

Contact email: alessandro.ottino.16@ucl.ac.uk

Christopher Parsonson

Chris Parsonson

Christopher graduated with a first-class Hons. in Materials Science and Engineering (MEng) from Imperial College London in 2018. During this time Christopher completed research internships at a range of start-up and global technology companies, including Dyson, Ubisense, Polygelco and Cambridge Nanosystems. He then went on to study for a master's degree in Integrated Photonic & Electronic Systems engineering at the University of Cambridge, graduating with a distinction. At Cambridge and in collaboration with the start-up VividQ, his research focused on using computer-generated 3D holography to develop next-generation augmented and virtual reality displays.


Christopher joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as a PhD student in October 2019 with EPSRC funding as part of the IPES Centre for Doctoral Training. He is currently developing optimisation algorithms to enable ultra-fast and scalable optical switching and networking techniques for cloud and high-performance computing applications.

Contact email: zciccwf@ucl.ac.uk

Zak Shabka

Zak Shabka earned his BSc in Physics from King's College London (with first-class Hons.) in 2018. In his second year, he was awarded the Gordon Rogers Scholarship. During this time, he undertook a research project in the 'Theory and Simulation of Condensed Matter' group. Zak also spent one year studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

After graduating, Zak joined the UCL-Cambridge Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems (IPES). His research project at Cambridge was to develop a novel quality metric for 3D holographic images. At UCL, his research project looked into methods of optimising semiconductor optical amplifiers for ultra-high-speed optical switching. 

In October 2019, Zak joined the Optical Networks Group as a PhD student under the supervision of Georgios Zervas.

Contact email: zacharaya.shabka.18@ucl.ac.uk  

Ronit Sohanpal

Head shot of Ronit Sohanpal
Ronit Sohanpal was awarded an MSci degree in Physics from UCL in 2018, with his final project investigating multi-mode fibre applications in optical tweezers. After graduating he joined the UCL-Cambridge Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems (IPES), completing his MRes degree in 2019. His research projects during this time included thermal sensitivity characterisation of multi-core fibre for data centre interconnections and the evaluation of coherent transmission technologies for 100Gbps passive optical networks.


In October 2019 he joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as an MPhil/PhD student under the supervision of Dr Zhixin Liu. He is currently working on high-performance frequency combs for RF signal processing and data centre interconnections. Ronit's research interests include:

  • Optical transceivers for data centre interconnections
  • Parametric frequency comb generation
  • Optical signal processing

Contact email: ronit.sohanpal.14@ucl.ac.uk 

Evan Sutcliffe

Evan Sutcliffe photo
Evan Sutcliffe was awarded a MEng in General Engineering, specialising in Electronics, from Durham University in 2020. His master's project undertaken during this degree looked at applying machine learning techniques to cloud radio access networks.

After graduation, Evan joined UCL for the Delivering Quantum Technologies Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). During his first year on the programme Evan completed his MRes degree, which included a research project on simulating entanglement distribution in quantum networks. In Autumn 2020 Evan joined the Optical Networks Group (ONG) at UCL under the supervision of Dr Aleandra Beghelli, to continue his research on quantum networks.

Research interests:

  • Quantum network design
  • Distributed quantum algorithms
  • Machine Learning applied to networks


Contact email: evan.sutcliffe.20@ucl.ac.uk 

Jiaqian Yang

Jiaqian Yang was awarded an MSc from Tsinghua University in 2018 with a thesis project entitled ‘Investigating broadband photonic analogue-to-digital converter and microwave photonic radar systems’. After graduating, Jiaqian joined the UCL-Cambridge Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems. During his master's year Jiaqian completed two research projects: the first focused on high-speed optical transceivers and was supervised by Prof. Robert Killey, and the second looked at machine learning based on optical processors which was in collaboration with Optalysys Ltd.

Jiaqian joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as an MPhil/PhD student in October 2019. He is currently developing nonlinear models and compensation algorithms supervised by Prof. Robert Killey and will investigate ultrawideband optical transmission systems. His research interests are:

  • Nonlinear fibre optics
  • High speed optical transceiver design
  • Application of machine learning to nonlinear compensation

Contact email: jiaqian.yang.18@ucl.ac.uk

Wenting Yi

Head shot of Wenting Yi
Wenting Yi received a BEng degree in Electronic Information Engineering from Nanjing Forestry University, China, in 2017. The following September, she joined UCL to pursue an MSc in Wireless and Optical Communications. For her thesis, she worked with Dr Robert Killey on low-complexity heterodyne optical coherent transceivers. 


In September 2018, Wenting joined the Optical Networks Group as a PhD candidate with funding from Huawei Technologies. Under the supervision of Dr Robert Killey and Prof Polina Bayvel, she is currently working on coherent and direct detection optical transceivers for long-haul and short-reach links, focusing on advanced signal formats and digital signal processing. Her research interests include: 

  • Coherent and direct detection optical receivers
  • Advanced optical signal formats
  • Optical signal propagation in dispersive nonlinear fibres
  • Long- and ultra-long-haul links, and short reach, metro, access and data-centre links
  • Digital signal processing algorithms, e.g. Kramers-Kronig scheme, digital back propagation, constellation shaping, machine learning

Contact email: w.yi.17@ucl.ac.uk

Zichuan Zhou

Head shot of Zichuan Zhou
Zichuan Zhou received his BEng degree (with first-class Hons.) in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from University College London (UCL) in 2018. He was awarded the Clinton Prize as the top graduating student in the BEng programme, and was also recognised on the Dean's List in 2018 which commends the top 5% of students, in terms of academic performance, from across the Faculty.  

After graduating, Zichuan joined the UCL-Cambridge Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Photonic and Electronic Systems (IPES) and completed his MRes degree in 2019. His research project at Cambridge focussed on the design of semiconductor optical amplifier (SOA) based optical switch. 

In October 2019, Zichuan joined the Optical Networks Group at UCL as an MPhil/PhD student, under the supervision of Dr Zhixin Liu. His research interests include: 

  • Directly-modulated laser 
  • Optical transceivers for data centre interconnections
  • Laser dynamics

Contact email: zichuan.zhou.14@ucl.ac.uk 

Visiting and Honorary Staff

Benedikt Geiger

Coming soon. 

Dr Tianhua Xu

Honorary Lecturer, University of Warwick School of Engineering

Dr Benn Thomsen

Honorary Reader, Microsoft Research

Dr Domaniç Lavery

Honorary Researcher, Royal Academy of Engineering

Join our team. Browse our latest vacancies and find out how to get in touch about general enquiries.  

PhD Studentships

x3 fully funded 4-year Optical Networks Group PhD programmes

Applications are invited for fully-funded PhD studentships, in the Optical Networks Group, Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at University College London (UCL). The studentship covers Home tuition fees and an annual stipend of £17,609 (2021-2022), increasing annually with inflation. Additional support will cover consumables, books, professional memberships and travel to workshops and conferences. 

Closing date for applications: 31st August 2021. Click on the button below for further information.

Fully funded PhD studentships – Optical Networks

High-Capacity Optical Fibre Networks

A fully funded four-year PhD studentship is available to UK / EU students to work in the Optical Networks Group (within the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at UCL) on the next generation of optical communication infrastructure and technologies to underpin the cloud connectivity. The project is experimental oriented research and the successful student will help us to develop our recirculating optical fibre loop and a mesh network test-bed to support transmission rates above Terabit/s speeds, expanding the usable optical fibre bandwidth using new amplifier and transmitter technologies. The student will work closely with researchers on the EPSRC TRANSNET Programme grant. 

Applications will remain open until a suitable candidate is found, but if you are interested please apply as soon as possible. Click on the button below for more information.

High-Capacity Optical Fibre Networks

General Enquiries 

Along with our advertised positions, we are always happy to hear from post-doctoral researchers and PhD students interested in working with us. We are looking for team members with aptitude and interest in hands-on experimental work in the areas of high-speed optical fibre transmission systems, digital signal processing and machine learning for optical communications. Applicants should have an excellent academic record with a first degree in electronic and electrical engineering, physics or a related discipline and demonstrate enthusiasm and ability for research work. 

Please contact Professor Polina Bayvel in the first instance: p.bayvel@ucl.ac.uk

Many outstanding students and research fellows have passed through the Optical Networks Group (and come back again!) since it was founded in 1994. 

Most of our alumni are listed below, but if you were a member of our group and your name and contact details are not on the list, please get in touch with ruth.milne@ucl.ac.uk and let us know where you are now. 

  • Sergei Makovey, now with Corning Inc, UK
  • Jose Manuel Delgado Mendinueta, now with NICT, Japan
  • Vitaly Mikhailov, now with OFS, USA
  • Ignacio de Miguel, now with University of Valladolid, Spain
  • David Millar, now with Infinera 
  • Rudolfo di Muro, now with Ericsson, Sweden 
  • Alec Myers
  • Naohide Nagatsu, now with NTT, Japan
  • Antonio Napoli, now with Coriant, Germany
  • Robert Packham, now with Infinera, UK
  • Ben Parker, now with Lot Oriel UK
  • Milen Paskov, now with TE SubCom, USA
  • Thorsten Pfister, now with SICK, Germany
  • Josep Prat, now with Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, Spain
  • Ben Puttnam, now with NICT Japan
  • Derek Rothnie, now with EE, UK