[Meet our Faculty] Derya Malak, professor in communications and information theory at EURECOM

EURECOM Communication
3 min readOct 4, 2023
Prof. Derya Malak

In 2021, Dr. Derya Malak, joined EURECOM as an Assistant Professor at the Communication Systems department bringing her expertise in communication networks towards next generation computation. Welcome Derya!

Q. Could you describe briefly your academic trajectory so far?

DM. Originally from Turkey, I did my bachelor’s at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, and my master’s at Koc University, Istanbul both in electrical engineering. As a student, inspired by my professors I decided to follow an academic career. Hence, I pursued a PhD in wireless communications, specifically on device-to-device communications, at the University of Texas, Austin. At that time, I realised that I would like to diversify my background, leading to my postdoc on information theory concepts at MIT with Dr. Muriel Medard, a great role model for me. In 2019, after my postdoc, I got a faculty position at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) at New York state, where I worked at the intersection of information theory and computation.

Q. What made you choose to come to EURECOM?

DM. Few schools have a specific Communications System department and this is something I appreciate at EURECOM. Already many years before applying for this position, I had heard about EURECOM’s very good reputation among my advisors. Here, I find that there are excellent conditions for research and great possibilities to attract exceptional students and new research grants. On the personal aspect, I really enjoy the quality of life in the region as well.

Q. What is the expertise you bring to the ComSys department?

DM. My expertise is in the area of communications, and I am intrigued by the use of communication networks towards next generation computation, meaning the use of communication networks for the purpose of computing and tasks. Usually, we use networks with specific objectives, using the available resources effectively, with minimum information transmission, in order to recover what we need. In the future, I am hoping to form collaborations within the ComSys department, at the intersection of theory and practical implementation.

Q. What are your future goals and your message as a new Assistant Professor at EURECOM?

DM. I think that the solutions to the problems I am looking into lie within the intersection of already well-established fields like information theory and graph theory. In 10 years, I would like to contribute to the understanding of fundamental aspects of the computational limitations of networks. Even if it would be a small contribution, it could help towards building a field of computation in networks, as Shannon did with communication in networks.

A researcher’s life is a choice that requires a lot of dedication and perseverance; in this job, we have to fail a lot — 10 times (if not more) to be successful once! We can change the world starting with things within our reach. For example, inspire students, and touch their lives to pursue their research interests guided by our expertise. If you are passionate, you should not give up early on the path of academia; given enough time, you will eventually get where you want to be.

by Dora Matzakou for EURECOM

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EURECOM Communication

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