“The work environment at IMDEA Networks was the key to my success”

Why, what, how and where: an alumnus takes stock of his PhD experience

11 March 2019

We interview one of the members of our Alumni Network, Dr. Roderick Fanou, during his recent visit to IMDEA Networks. Roderick obtained his PhD from IMDEA Networks and Universidad Carlos III de Madrid back in December 2017 and is now a Post Doc at the San Diego SuperComputer Center, CAIDA, University of California San Diego, (USA).

Why did you decide to pursue a PhD?

First of all, I would like to thank you for this opportunity that is given to me to give my impressions on my stay at IMDEA Networks.

I decided to pursue a PhD in Telematics Engineering because I was curious about the actual operation of the Internet and the reasons why the quality back in my country (Benin, in West Africa) and in neighboring ones was so low. Another reason is that I followed a class in my hometown university where we stressed the need for more research on the African Internet to find out the reasons for its weaknesses, and suggest decision makers suitable actions that need to be taken in order to improve quality of service. This class was given by Pierre François (at the time a Research Assistant Professor at IMDEA Networks) and I really enjoyed it. I was interested in working with him, so these are the reasons why I actually applied to IMDEA Networks, and that’s how I enrolled in my PhD.

What would you highlight about your time as a PhD student at IMDEA Networks?

I had a great time at IMDEA Networks as a PhD student. The environment was the key to my success. I would like to highlight the fact that I had the opportunity to work with top researchers and top professors, and also to follow their advice in order to achieve high quality papers and reach my goals. We worked together to investigate the African Internet over a five-year period and see how our findings could be extended to developing regions. Another thing is that you could also attend talks and seminars that targeted a broad scope of current research interests and topics, which actually opened up the path to a great academic career for me.

Do you feel your time at IMDEA Networks prepared you well for your professional career?

Yes, I believe my time at IMDEA Networks prepared me well for my professional career because I was able to work in collaboration with industry, but also to work with widely known researchers over the five years. I was able to see how both researchers and industry interact with each other and how they impact on the network, as well as to observe what the differences are between them. So at the end of my PhD program I was ready not only to go to industry but also to academia; I could choose.

Have you moved into industry, academia or the research sector?

After much consideration I have decided to pursue my postdoc, that is, I moved to academia. So as of now, I’m working at UCSD’s (University of San Diego, California) Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), alongside top researchers and under the supervision of Amogh Dhamdhere and K.C. Claffy. Actually I made this choice in order to broaden the scope of my research and have more impact.

My research activities, as of now, consist in helping develop new applications into the integration of existing codebases, in the context of CAIDA’s PANDA* project. For instance, we just released a MANIC** web service – which is a tool that is intended not only for researchers -to access to two and a half years of data pertaining internet congestion and performance.

*Integrated Platform for Applied Network Data Analysis
**Measurement and Analysis of Internet Congestion

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