Institute of Communications and Connected Systems


PhD student reaches final of Connected Nation Pioneers Competition

2 October 2018

Electronic and Electrical Engineering PhD student, Kari Clark, is finalist in Connected Nation Pioneers Competition

Picture of Kari Clark, next to image of data centre racks

Author  Navta Vij, TRANSNET Communications Manager

Research theme logos - Intelligent High Capacity Networks;  Sensing, Information and Data Processing
Optical networks | Data Centres | Cloud Computing | Data infrastructure

Kari Aaron Clark, PhD student and member of the Optical Networks Group at the UCL Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, has secured a place in the final sixteen of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council’s (EPSRC) Connected Nation Pioneers competition. 

This year’s UK wide competition was opened to all second and third-year postgraduate research students with the aim of recognising exceptional research contributions towards the development of a Connected Nation. 

The final assessment will take place at the EPSRC Head Quarters on 17 October 2018, where Kari, along with his PhD supervisor Dr Zhixin Liu, Lecturer of Photonic Systems and Co-Investigator on the TRANSNET Programme, will present a demo of their innovative research on the state-of-the-art clock recovery for data centre networks. 

Data centres comprise up to hundreds of thousands of servers hosting applications such as cloud computing, data storage and web search. They are the essential data infrastructure that connects people in the UK and worldwide. Dr Zhixin Liu said: 

The technique that Kari has demonstrated overcomes the long-standing challenge of time and clock synchronisation in machine-to-machine communications within data centres, it will be of significant impact to the world’s future data infrastructures.

In collaboration with Microsoft, the team recently published their work in the highly-prestigious post-deadline session in the European Conference of Optical Communications, the top conference in the field. 

The sixteen finalists were selected following a two-stage process. Initial assessment focussed on whether their research fell within the remit of the call. A judging panel drawn from the competition's sponsors then selected the finalists after viewing short multimedia presentation videos produced by the candidates. Finalist's selection was based on how they presented their ideas using the criteria set out in the call.

The Connected Nation Pioneers is an exciting partnership between the EPSRC and key stakeholders, with the aim of recognising exceptional UK doctoral students whose research contributes to the development of a connected nation. This year’s completion is being sponsored by DSTL, Facebook, BT, Samsung, Huawei, Thales, Amazon and NVIDIA.