Agrawal Named NAI Charter Fellow

By: Ashley Duvelius

Dharma Agrawal, PhD and the Ohio Board of Regents Distinguished Professor of the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s School of Computer Science and Computer Engineering, was recently named a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Dharma Agrawal

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has recently named Dharma Agrawal, PhD and the Ohio Board of Regents Distinguished Professor of the College of Engineering and Applied Science’s School of Computer Science and Computer Engineering, a Charter Fellow. NAI states, “Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”

Although NAI only named a mere 98 innovators to Charter status nationally, it comes as no surprise that Agrawal was one of them. To be nominated, candidates must be a named inventor on at least one patent issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Agrawal goes above and beyond this with six approved patents, two personal pending patents and twenty four patent filings in the area of wireless cellular networks.

“It is a great honor to be named as a Charter Fellow of NAI.  I am among 98 innovators elected to NAI Fellow status, representing 54 universities and nonprofit research institutes. Faculty member Dr. Sandra Degan, PhD and Molecular Genetics Director of Academics, is also selected for this recognition and I’m honored to be in her company,” says Agrawal.

Fellows were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing; innovative discovery and technology; significant impact on society; as well as for the support and enhancement of innovation. Selection was made by a 14-member committee comprising of distinguished inventors, researchers and officials. Those selected will be inducted as a NAI Charter Fellow by the US commissioner for patents, Margaret Focarino, during the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Academy of Inventors on February 22, 2013, at the University of South Florida Research Park in Tampa, Florida. Fellows will be presented with a special trophy and rosette pin.

Agrawal’s recent research interests include resource allocation and security in mesh networks; efficient deployment and security in sensor networks; use of Femto cells; heterogeneous wireless networks; vehicular area networks; and the use of sensors in biomedical monitoring of human health. His research in wireless networking security spans over 15 years for “security is an important component of our work,” says Agrawal.

It was brought to his attention that “in a typical network, a single intruder can find out what is going on in the network.” Agrawal and his fellow researchers created a technique for ad-hoc wireless networks, and when applied, Agrawal assures that it “will require an entire group of people to collaborate if they really want to hack into the security of a system, and the number is indicated by the threshold value.”

Last April, Agrawal was nominated and received the Outstanding Emerging Innovation Award for his work with securing ad-hoc networks during the 2nd Annual Cincinnati USA Innovation Awards. Ad-hoc networks are formed quickly, and are an “infrastructure-less property” which “employs multi-hop routing to transmit information.” This decentralized nature of ad-hoc networks makes them ideal for a variety of applications. Military and emergency units especially use these networks for their convenience of quick deployment and minimal configuration.

Agrawal received his BS in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Raipur, India in 1966. He graduated with honors and his MS in electronics and communication engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India in 1968. Agrawal then achieved his DSc in electrical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1975.

Agrawal joined the faculty of Wayne State University (‘77-‘82) and then North Carolina State University (‘82-‘98). He has also been a consultant to the General Dynamics Land Systems Division, Battelle, Inc., and the US Army. Additionally, Agrawal’s held visiting appointments at AIRMICS in Atlanta, Georgia, and the AT&T Advanced Communications Laboratory in Whippany, New Jersey. He came to UC in 1998 and has kept busy as a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon University during fall 2006 and winter 2007.

In 1994, as the Chair of the Technical Committee on Computer Architecture of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society, Agrawal started a new symposium on High Performance Computer Architecture that has become one of the most important meetings for the research community. He also took initiative in starting a new meeting for the Mobile Ad-hoc and Sensor Systems area, and meetings have been held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Washington, DC; Vancouver, Canada; Pisa, Italy; Atlanta, Georgia; Macau, China; and Las Vegas, Nevada, respectively. The tenth meeting will be held in Hangzhou, China in October 2013.

Agrawal has made vast contributions to his field, having published numerous papers in the areas of Parallel System Architecture, Multicomputer Networks, Routing Techniques, Parallelism Detection and Scheduling Techniques, Reliability of Real-Time Distributed Systems, Modeling of C-MOS Circuits, and Computer Arithmetic.

He’s co-authored an introductory text book on Wireless and Mobile Computing which has been widely accepted throughout the world and a third edition has just been published. The book has been reprinted both in China and India as well as being translated into the Korean and Chinese languages. Agrawal also co-authored a book on Ad-hoc and Sensor Networks. The book’s second edition was published in spring 2011 and is now called the best seller by the publisher. He co-edited a book titled Encyclopedia on Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing and co-authored the books: Wireless Sensor Networks: Deployment Alternatives and Analytical Modeling; Innovative Approaches to Spectrum Selection, Sensing, and Sharing in Cognitive Radio Network; and Enhancing Wireless Mesh Networks using Cognitive Radios with Smart Antennas, and On-demand Medium Access in Heterogeneous Multihop Wireless Networks.

Recently, Agrawal’s been interacting with industry extensively, earning him several Small Business Innovation Research awards and the second phase of an Air Force Small Business Technology Transfer Award. He’s delivered keynote speeches at 26 different international conferences; published 624 papers; and has given 42 different tutorials and extensive training courses in various conferences across the US and at numerous institutions in Taiwan, Korea, Jordan, UAE, Malaysia, and India in the areas of Ad-hoc and Sensor Networks and Mesh Networks, including security issues. Agrawal has also been appointed as the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Central European Journal of Computer Science.

To date, Agrawal has graduated 63 PhD and 55 MS students. He’s been named as an Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researcher in the field of computer science. Agrawal has received various awards from the IEEE Computer Society, including a Core Member and IEEE second Millennium Medal. He’s a winner of the 2008 Harry Goode Memorial Award from the IEEE Computer Society as well as the UC 2011 Award for Excellence in the Mentoring of Doctoral Students.

“I plan to continue my teaching and research activities until I am unable to move around and talk. My recent work concentrates on exploring the use of sensors for medical applications such as unattended continuous monitoring of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Recently, I introduced a new course on a sensor-based embedded system design where the future lies and has exceptional growth potential. In another 18 to 24 months, I plan to write a single-authored text book that may be my last and best book by far. Of course, I will continue to update my text books until I am unable to do so, provided there is a heavy demand in these areas.

At the age of 54, I changed my area of research and it has been a real struggle to achieve this level of excellence. But, my professional dedication and hard work eventually took me to this height,” reflects Agrawal.

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2010 to recognize investigators at universities and nonprofit research institutes who translate their research findings into inventions that may benefit society. It was founded at the University of South Florida, with UC as one of five charter members. The NAI recognizes and encourages inventors who have a patent issued from the United States Patent and Trademark Office; enhances the visibility of university and non-profit research institute technology and academic innovation; encourages the disclosure of intellectual property; educates and mentors innovative students; and encourages the translation of the inventions of its members to benefit society.

Select for print copy.