Monday 26th of February 2018
On 07th October 2010

An Exclusive Interview with Natarajan Meghanathan from Jackson State University, Mississippi, USA

"The most interesting thing that I have learned is to conduct collaborative research, including joint publications and proposal writing."

I received my B. Tech in Chemical Engineering from Anna University, India, in 1998. I then did my M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science in USA. I received my MS from Auburn University, Alabama in 2002 and Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Dallas in 2005. Since Fall 2005, I am working as Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Jackson State University in the State of Mississippi, USA. My primary area of research interest is Wireless Ad hoc Networks. I have a total of more than 60 peer-reviewed publications in this area. In addition, I am actively pursuing research in Sensor Networks, Graph Theory, Network Security, Computational Biology and Distributed Systems.

How did you gain interest in Wireless Ad hoc Networks?
My first encounter with ad hoc networks was when I took a graduate-level Wireless Networks course at Auburn University while pursuing my Masters degree. In that course, I did a term paper project on multicast routing protocols for mobile ad hoc networks. The topic inspired me a lot and I found myself very interested in continuing with this topic for Ph.D. as well. At this time, I would also like to thank my instructor at Auburn University (Dr. Chung-Wei Lee) for the above course which was very supportive and encouraging for a term paper project on a new quality of service based multicast routing protocol for mobile ad hoc networks.

What trend do you foresee in Wireless Ad hoc Networks?
The area of Wireless Ad hoc networks has lots of scope in the future. I see the design and development of communication protocols based on cross-layer protocol interaction to be one of the main areas that researchers are working on in the recent years. Another area where I see potential growth is vehicular ad hoc networks - wherein vehicles on the road organize an ad hoc network among themselves and exchange critical information about traffic. Also, in all of these emerging areas, security is a vital feature that needs to be considered.

What did you investigate in your last publication?
My latest printed article is titled: "On the Use of Minimum Node Velocity based Stable Connected Dominating Sets for Mobile Ad hoc Networks," published in the International Journal of Computer Applications (IJCA) in their Special Issue on Recent Advancements in Mobile Ad hoc Networks. In this article, I investigated the idea of determining stable connected dominating sets (CDS) by including slow moving nodes preferably over nodes with a larger number of neighbors. The tradeoff that I observed was that the number of nodes that are part of the stable CDS is more than that of a minimum CDS; whereas, the stable CDS had a significantly longer lifetime. The reason I chose to publish this article in the IJCA was that they had a special issue on MANETs and it fitted very well.

How do you approach research? How long does it take to complete a paper?
If I want to research on a particular area, I first read the relevant articles in that area and try to get a feeling of what has been done in that area. I then narrow down to choosing a particular problem that seems to have lots of scope for future work. Once I choose a problem, I try to think of solutions first by myself. I then go to the literature and see if anyone else had already done that. If the idea has not been studied before, I start working on that idea, typically by beginning to implement the idea, generally in the form of code development and comparison with relevant existing algorithms/protocols. After I collect all the data (say from simulations), it usually takes me, 5-10 days, on average to start and finish a paper.

What are the most interesting or surprising things you have learned about since your arrival at your current workplace?
The most interesting thing that I have learned is to conduct collaborative research, including joint publications and proposal writing.

What topics have you been teaching so far?
I primarily teach Computer Networks (both at the undergraduate and graduate level) and the Computer Security courses.

What was your most successful moment?
The successful moment comes when my paper/proposal gets accepted. Irrespective of the number of papers I have in a particular area, I get very excited when I see a newly accepted paper/proposal.

Your recommendations and advice for young researchers who would like to pursue research in Mobile Ad hoc Networks?
Start with a simple algorithm or code and slowly increase the complexity - analyze the features, constraints and their fixes, etc. If you are graph theory specialist, you can at times be able to model an ad hoc network as a graph and analyze the properties in a centralized theoretical fashion to get the benchmarks and then go for distributed implementation.

What are the current research projects you are working on?
I am currently working on research projects related to mobile ad hoc networks, sensor networks, graph theory and computational biology. My current research projects have been funded by the U. S. National Science Foundation.

Were you inspired by a famous scientist or engineer?
I often have as role model, people who have come up in life/career on their own, with sheer hard work and perseverance. Many of my inspirations are from fields, other than academics.

What is your feeling about open-access publication? Do you recommend it?
Open-access publications are here to stay, especially when it comes to emerging areas. Yes, I recommend it.

And finally any hobbies?
Reading on the Internet and listening to songs.

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