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Every year, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) awards one researcher with the IEEE INFOCOM Achievement Award, which is a distinguished award given to researchers with “a body of work that has had significant impacts on the networking community in general, and INFOCOM in particular”. It is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a researcher in the INFOCOM community. This year, computer science professor Mario Gerla was named recipient of the prestigious award for his contributions to modeling, implementation, and testing of wired and wireless network protocols.

Gerla expressed his excitement for the award, saying, “The community that selected me are the peers I have interacted with and exchanged results, wrote papers and proposals together, and participated in panels with for the past 20 years – it’s very meaningful to me to be recognized by them.”

Having been a professor at UCLA for over 40 years and an Internet researcher for even longer, Gerla has been a key pioneer in early Internet protocol design and wireless and mobile network architectures. His earliest contributions came in the 60’s and 70’s when he was still a grad student at UCLA on the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) project led by Len Kleinrock. In this project, he helped design the ARPANET topology layout, and aided in developing algorithms to find optimal routes for data packets from source to destination. Many of these algorithms are still used today. Later in the 90’s, Gerla participated in two key Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) projects which gave rise to some of his main contributions in wireless mobile networks (MANETs). During this time, Gerla authored several heavily cited algorithms and protocols within the area of MANETs, such as routing, clustering, multicast, etc., and continues to make lasting, groundbreaking contributions in these areas to this day.

In addition to this, Gerla has published over 1000 papers and reports on computer networks and mobile systems, and is one of the most heavily cited researchers within the realm of computer science. In fact, much of his work is regularly mentioned during INFOCOM conferences, ever since the conferences started in the early 1980s.

More recently, Gerla has been working on vehicular networks and the use of inter-vehicle communications, a subject related to the wireless research he was recognized for by the INFOCOM achievement award. In the long run, Gerla hopes his most recent research targeting autonomous, self driving vehicles will help redefine the landscape of autonomous vehicles and make them safer and more efficient for people to use.

Gerla will be recognized during the opening ceremony of INFOCOM 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii on Tuesday, April 17. Read more about Gerla, INFOCOM, and the INFOCOM awards here.