Feature Stories 2023: Faculty Feature: Ruolin Zhou

Dr. Ruolin Zhou standing in the UMassD library
Feature Stories 2023: Faculty Feature: Ruolin Zhou
Faculty Feature: Ruolin Zhou

Ruolin Zhou, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, is forging new roads in wireless communication.

UMass Dartmouth faculty are as dedicated to their boundary-breaking research as they are to their students' success. The mentorship and personalized guidance our students receive from faculty is one of the most valuable advantages UMassD offers. 

5G and beyond: Fostering a more connected world 

Meet Ruolin Zhou, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, who is forging new roads in wireless communication.  Dr. Zhou's research is focused on breaking down barriers to wireless connectivity and communication on a global scale.   

With the growth of wireless devices and the promise of technologies like 5G (the fifth generation of mobile networks), the electromagnetic spectrum is getting crowded. Dr. Zhou wants to find solutions to this congestion so that everyone, from regular people to government agencies, can use wireless communication more efficiently. Her ultimate goal is to create reliable and secure global connectivity, bridging the digital divide and fostering a more connected world. 

Why is this topic worth investigating? 

"In the rapidly evolving landscape of wireless communication, the advent of 5G and beyond promises transformative changes," Dr. Zhou said.  "It offers higher capacity, faster speeds, and global connectivity that will reshape how we live, work, learn, and entertain. It's expected to support advanced applications in augmented reality, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT).  

"However, the phenomenal growth and increasing functionality of wireless devices have led to a congestion of the electromagnetic spectrum. In response to this challenge, my research is dedicated to breaking down barriers and finding ways to make it easier for different devices to share the spectrum without causing problems. I aspire to create solutions so that everyone, from the general public to government agencies, scientists, and the military, can use these waves more efficiently."  

Dr. Ruolin Zhou with Electrical Engineering student Erika Caushi

What kind of change do you hope to bring about in the world – either with your research or through teaching?  


"My research is dedicated to advancing reliable and secure wireless communications, a domain that significantly impacts our daily lives. My main aspiration is to foster global connectivity through seamless communication channels encompassing land, air, maritime, and space domains. Such connectivity is paramount for the well-being, safety, and progress of individuals and societies worldwide, with profound implications for humanitarian endeavors, national security, economic prosperity, scientific breakthroughs, international relations, and the exploration of uncharted frontiers, both on Earth and beyond." 


"On the educational front, my commitment extends to integrating research and teaching during my appointment with UMass Dartmouth. I have had the privilege of advising and mentoring a diverse group of students, including two Ph.D. candidates, six master's students, and seven undergraduate research assistants—some from underrepresented backgrounds—all of whom have been supported by my research grants. Additionally, I have advised 25 undergraduate students through their senior design projects. 

"In my classrooms, I strive to bring the latest state-of-the-art technologies, ensuring that students are not only equipped with foundational knowledge but also empowered with the skills necessary to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of engineering and science. My ultimate goal is to train and nurture these budding talents, shaping them into future engineers, scientists, and professionals who will drive innovation and progress in our interconnected world." 

What do you most enjoy about working with UMass Dartmouth students?  

"What I most enjoy about working with UMass Dartmouth students is the immense joy and fulfillment it brings. I find continual inspiration in the diversity and motivation of our student body. Their unwavering commitment to learning and their unique backgrounds infuse our academic community with vibrant energy. It's a true privilege to engage with students who not only possess a deep passion for their studies but also exhibit an eagerness to explore new ideas and perspectives.  

"The most rewarding aspect for me is the opportunity to witness their remarkable growth and development. As an educator, there's nothing more fulfilling than playing a role in shaping their academic journey and helping them achieve their goals. Whether it is in the classroom, during mentorship sessions, or through collaborative research projects, every interaction reaffirms my belief in the transformative power of education.  

"Our students consistently bring fresh insights and creativity to the table. Their innovative thinking and willingness to tackle complex challenges make our collaborative projects both exciting and dynamic. For instance, in the 2020-2021 academic year, I had the privilege to advise a group of students who participated in the AFRL Beyond 5G Software Defined Radio (SDR) University Challenge. This diverse team, consisting of undergraduate and graduate students from the ECE department, passionately tackled a complex problem and emerged victorious, winning the Best Team Award in the constrained category. Their achievement fills me with immense pride and reinforces my eagerness to continue guiding our students toward even greater growth and success."