Where are they now! Catching up with past Maine EPSCoR participants: Sonia Naderi 

By Stefania Irene Marthakis 

In August of 2022, Sonia Naderi, who worked alongside Dr. Ali Abedi (Associate Vice President for Research and the Director of Center for Undergraduate Research), completed her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Maine, with a thesis on  Low Cost and Reliable Wireless Sensor Networks for Environmental Monitoring.

As part of the NSF EPSCoR RII Track-2 grant INSPIRES, which focuses on gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data collected from across the Northern Forest Region. Naderi utilizes wireless sensor network systems to understand changes due to performance and environment (e.g., tool issues, adverse weather). INSPIRES researchers aim to establish power efficient systems that are low cost and capable of performing large-scale monitoring, compared to the existing industry standards.

Portrait of Sonia Naderi
Sonia Naderi

“The proposed system was built at the University of Maine’s WiSe-Net Lab in collaboration with University of New Hampshire and University of Vermont researchers,” Naderi explained. “The system was configured to perform soil moisture measurement with provision to include other sensor types at later stages with our new forest research partners at Alabama A&M University.”

As explained further in a recent paper, Sharing Wireless Spectrum in the Forest Ecosystems Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Naderi along with fellow INSPIRES team members have addressed the complexities for measuring forest ecosystems by using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: “We have designed a low-cost system that includes wireless sensor nodes managed by an AI engine for power efficiency. Although we focus here on soil moisture measurement, the same methodology could be extended to other types of sensors with proper power and frequency optimization.”

In addition to her research with WiSe-Net and INSPIRES, Naderi also completed an internship in the summer of 2022 at Samsung as a Wireless System Structure Design Engineer. Naderi’s work involved advancements in wireless communication (e.g., capacity erosion considerations caused by increase in gap symbols and slots for various levels of coverage extension).

EPSCoR grants like INSPIRES are designed to improve research capacity and provide training opportunities for the next-generation workforce, especially in propelling emerging fields in science and technology such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.

“The INSPIRES project was the first time that I worked with a large group of students and faculty from different disciplines, schools, and locations,” Naderi stated. “It was an interdisciplinary project and I had this opportunity to work with the University of Maine, University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, and Alabama A&M University.”

Building on her research experience at the University of Maine, Naderi has started as a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Colleen Josephson (jLab), Naderi will conduct postdoctoral research on modeling outage probabilities for various aspects of an outdoor wireless sensor network.