Profile of graduate student Aruna Balasubramanian

Aruna Balasubramanian is a Ph.D. student in the Privacy, Internetworking, Security and Mobile Systems (PRISMS) lab and works with Professors Brian Levine and Arun Venkataramani. Balasubramanian chose to pursue graduate studies in computer science because she liked the logic-based nature of the field. She also enjoys the balance of theory and practice in computer science. She has been a graduate student for three years and says she likes the constant challenges and the stimulating research environment. “The best part of being a graduate student in computer science is the consistent exposure to a wide array of learning opportunities,” she says. “And UMass Amherst provides a collaborative and nurturing environment to learn and to do science.” Her research interests are broadly in networking and system building.

Balasubramanian’s current research focus is in building a robust network protocol to allow ubiquitous network connectivity. She hopes that her protocol can be used for connectivity by a wide range of users, including stationary users, pedestrians and passengers in a vehicle. In the last couple of years, she has worked on building a routing protocol that works efficiently in challenged networks where only intermittent connectivity is available. She spent the summer of 2007 at Microsoft Research in Redmond where she worked on enabling Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to make Internet-based phone calls from moving vehicles. “Internships and conference travel are an integral part of grad school,” says Balasubramanian. “To me these opportunities are very exciting because I can travel to new places and collaborate with researchers around the globe.”

Balasubramanian participates in a wide variety of activities both within and outside the department. She was co-chair for the CS Women’s group for a year. She planned several social events for the women in the department including a social she hosted at her house and a trip to the Northampton gardens. “These activities really bring people together and as a result I have made some great friends over the years,” she says. She volunteers for the diversity committee and attends networking events and conferences for women such as the Grace Hopper conference. Her event-filled academic calendar includes poster sessions for departmental activities such as homecoming weekend, CS Saturday (a day-long event for undergraduate students to learn about CS grad programs), and panel discussions.

Outside the department, Balasubramanian nurtures a strong interest in Indian classical music and makes frequent trips to Boston to attend concerts. When she is not working in her lab, she likes being outdoors and spending time with friends. She can be found at the Amherst Brewing Company most Friday nights. Balasubramanian says she is able to easily balance school and social life especially since her husband, Niranjan, is also a graduate student in the Department. She and her husband share an interest in science, music, cooking, traveling, and watching old classic movies. It really takes another grad student to understand the rigors and demands of grad school, she says. Her non-academic goal during her graduate life is to become a good skier.