Maria-Gabriella DI BENEDETTO


Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto obtained her Ph.D. in Telecommunications in 1987 from the University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy, with a dissertation on the acoustic and perceptual properties of American-English vowels. In 1991, she joined the Faculty of Engineering of University of Rome La Sapienza, where currently she is a Full Professor at the Department of Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications. She has held visiting positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Paris XI, France. In 1994, she received the Mac Kay Professorship award from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Di Benedetto’s research interests include speech and wireless communications. Her research interest in speech started since 1981 when she developed, during a master’s internship at IBM scientific center in Paris, France, a method for detecting voiced vs. voiceless sounds within a project dedicated to the development of computer-based tools for deaf children, and continued later with a Ph.D. topic focused on the acoustic and perceptual properties of vowels, that she mostly developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Speech Communication Group, under the supervision of Prof. Kenneth N. Stevens. In the following years, upon return in Italy, she directed for Sapienza, two European projects on the development of an Interactive system for Spoken European Language Training, and, from 1990 to 2000, her research focused on the analysis of the Italian language and in particular Italian consonants and gemination, within a project that was funded by Sapienza for a duration of over 10 years. Results of investigations on the Italian language were applied to the development of a speech synthesizer for Italian within the INFOVOX multi-lingual synthesis project. Thanks to the collaboration with the French laboratory LIMSI-CNRS her research on vowels expanded further to tackle the problem of the effect of vocal effort on spectral properties of vowels in French. In the 1990’s she was called for her expertise in speech to participate in the working group dedicated to the development of the speech coder for the first cellular communication system (2G), later known as GSM, under definition in Europe. This experience triggered her interest in wireless communications and as a consequence her research focused on the conception and designing of the next cellular generation. From 1995 to 2000, she directed for Sapienza four European projects on the design of UMTS (3G). Since 2000, she has been active in fostering the development of Ultra Wide Band (UWB) radio communications in Europe and directed for Sapienza several pioneering EU projects on UWB communications. As a result of her UWB research, Dr. Di Benedetto published in 2004 with Prentice Hall, the first published book on UWB communications, which included her key contributions to the design of UWB systems, and that was also later translated in Chinese.

During the last decade Dr. Di Benedetto research has focused on medium access control and management in wireless networks, hybrid models for complex wireless communication systems operating under coexisting conditions, and cognitive and coexisting networks. Within this theoretical and experimental research field, Professor Di Benedetto promoted and directed a COST Action project IC0902 'Cognitive Radio and Networking for Cooperative Coexistence of Heterogeneous Wireless Networks' on cognitive radio and networks, that gathered over 150 researchers from 25 countries in Europe, as well as the US, Canada, China, Australia, and Morocco, and promoted the FP7 European Network of Excellence ACROPOLIS that established a European Network of Excellence on cognitive radio. In addition, participation in the European Network of Excellence HYCON (Hybrid Control: Taming Heterogeneity and Complexity of Networked Embedded Systems) offered the framework for an interdisciplinary effort with colleagues from Control Theory that led to the formulation of hybrid models for complex wireless communication systems operating under coexisting conditions, and increased theoretical research activity in the field of cognitive and coexisting networks. Dr. Di Benedetto pioneered the understanding of how impulse radio features impact higher layer modules, such as MAC and routing. She was first in suggesting that theoretical limits of random access strategies may be revised given the impulse nature of the signal. This intuition, rising from well-based theoretical hypotheses, led to the adoption of random strategies in current impulse radio standards, and is now being reinterpreted in light of 5G and novel non-orthogonal access methods, such as NOMA.

Dr. Di Benedetto has published six books, five of which are edited books, about 50 journal papers, as well as over 100 conference publications. In October 2009, Dr. Di Benedetto received the Excellence in Research award 'Sapienza Ricerca', under the auspices of President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano. In February 2012, Prof. Di Benedetto promoted the creation of the startup "SPinV: Supporting People Indoor: a navigation Venture" that she led as CEO until 2015. From November 2013 to August 2019, Prof. Di Benedetto was the Director of the Doctoral program in Information and Communications Technologies (PhD in ICT) at Sapienza University of Rome.

Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto is a Fellow of the IEEE, with the following citation: "for contributions to impulse-radio ultra wideband and cognitive networks for wireless communications".

Recently, Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto was selected as 2019-2020 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Among just 3.7 percent of applicants accepted to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto has been named a 2019–2020 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, joining more than 50 women and men in the incoming fellowship class as they pursue work across the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts. As the 2019–2020 William Bentinck-Smith Fellow, Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto will pursue an individual project in a community dedicated to exploration and inquiry at Harvard’s institute for advanced study. At the Radcliffe Institute, she will develop a project that addresses the problem of modeling the process that a listener actuates in deriving words intended by a speaker, and extend the existing analysis of American-English to the Italian language. Exploring a new language will provide insight into whether the approach has universal application across languages, with relevant implication for the understanding of how human brain recognizes speech.

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