ECE Department names Professor Daniela Tuninetti interim department head

Daniela Tuninetti

The University of Illinois at Chicago named Professor Daniela Tuninetti interim department head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

A member of the Networks Information Communications and Engineering Systems (NICEST) Laboratory, her research focuses on various aspects of network information theory and communication theory. Tuninetti recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a framework for distributed computation. She is also a co-principal investigator on another $1.2 million NSF grant focused on determining the fundamental tradeoff between delay, transmission rate, and reliability for data transmission in future wireless cellular networks, where ultra-reliable low-latency massive machine-to-machine applications are envisioned.

She is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Tuninetti assumed the interim department head role on August 16. Professor Rashid Ansari, the former department head, declined to be considered for another five-year term, and the College of Engineering began a search this spring for an interim head. In July, Dean Peter Nelson announced that Tuninetti, who joined UIC in 2005, had accepted the position. She is the youngest of the full professors in the ECE department, and one of two female full professors.  “This department has done a fabulous job when it comes to gender diversity, especially when it comes to faculty. When you go up to higher-level administration you don’t see so many women,” Tuninetti said. “It’s easy to talk about—to say well, we should encourage women in STEM, encourage girls to go into engineering, to complete a Ph.D. program. I was at a point to challenge myself and go further. I thought: I should apply, I should do it.”

Tuninetti has many ideas for the department, including growing the size of the faculty, developing a strategic vision for moving the department forward, and creating teams to work on interdisciplinary projects. She expects to speak with all department faculty to examine where the department wants to be in the next five to seven years.

“I definitely want to hire more people,” Tuninetti said. “We’ve been hiring very talented successful young assistant professors, and I want to keep doing that. I want to attract people to come and work with us at UIC, who have great potential and can increase the visibility of the department.”

One of the greatest opportunities Tuninetti sees is collaborative, or convergence research, where complex societal problems are addressed by integrating various disciplines such as engineering, health sciences, the humanities, law, and more.

“If you want to tackle big problems, you do it with a team of people,” Tuninetti said.

Tuninetti moved into the department head office, SEO 1027 on August 16.

“There is a lot of work to do, and I believe it’s really important,” Tuninetti said.