22 April 2020

Elli Kartsakli is a researcher at the Computer Sciences Department at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). Her research interests revolve around wireless telecommunications and the 5G evolution. She is part of the ELASTIC project, working on how to model the impact of wireless transfer times to the execution of distributed tasks at the network edge. In this interview, Elli talks about her experience as a woman in STEM and as a member of the ELASTIC team.

  • How did you become interested in computer science? What influenced your decision in taking this career path?

Maths and physics have always been my favorite subjects at school, and when the time came to select a career path, I didn’t hesitate to choose electrical engineering and computer sciences. My dream was to be involved in robotics, but then I became fascinated by wireless telecommunications and networking.  I also love problem solving and critical thinking, so this career direction matched my personality and skills.

  • How has your experience as a woman studying and working in STEM been? Have you faced any challenges?

During my university studies both in Greece and in Spain, from bachelor to PhD, I was one of very few women in my year. This felt strange at the beginning, but I was very lucky and never faced any problem with my professors or fellow students. I think that the academia is a relatively protected environment for women, even though we still have a long way to go to achieve true gender equality. The most challenging experience so far for me has been to balance motherhood with career advancement, but luckily, working as a researcher gave me some degree of flexibility in terms of time management. 

  • What are you working on in the ELASTIC project and how has this experience been so far?

ELASTIC leverages distributed computing across the computing continuum, from edge to cloud, for extreme scale analytics. Towards the network edge, most devices are connected through wireless technologies such as WiFi or cellular communications. However, wireless network environments are highly volatile and the link quality varies with time. This uncertainty brings new challenges in the scheduling of computing tasks, since the properties of the communication channel must be taken in to account. My role in ELASTIC is to help incorporate the communication delays in the scheduling of the distributed tasks, in order to provide specific time guarantees

  • What message would you give to young girls and women who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

I would encourage all girls and young women to pursue whichever career path they like without feeling restrained or intimidated by gender stereotypes. Working in STEM is both challenging and rewarding and anyone with an interest in technology and sciences should definitely give it a try.