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Research Ideas

Professor Tim Brown in His Research Lab

The information below is relevant to the efforts of ITP Capstone groups and thesis students seeking topics for investigation. Additionally, all ITP students' whether or not involved with a Capstone or thesis are strongly encouraged to submit papers for publication and presentation.

The suggestions below should promote all types of student research. This page is periodically updated with the most recent ideas posted at the top of the ITP Research Ideas list. Significantly, please note that the Research Ideas list is only one of many potential sources that students may use to identify promising areas of research.

Indeed, students are encouraged to consider some combination of the following seven potential sources to help identify a research topic. Sources of research ideas include:

Call for Papers in Connection with Telecommunications Conferences

If leading conferences are seeking contributions in a particular subject area, then this is a strong indication that such area is also fertile for student research contributions. Even better, such conferences often have opportunities for students to publish and/or present "poster" sessions. Annual conferences you might investigate include but are not limited to TPRC (, and DySPAN ( Additionally, ITP is a member of a telecommunications consortium called ITERA, which offers periodic conferences and publication opportunities.

Research Agendas of Your University of Colorado Professors

Try to learn the areas in which your professors are on the leading edge of research. If you are interested in one of these areas, a professor can help educate you on the larger picture that will help you identify a fruitful area for focused research. Individual ITP faculty members are involved in a wide range of research projects, covering issues in security, multimedia, wireless technology, smart radios, spectrum regulation, networking, network economics, and a variety of other topics. Faculty research interests and projects can be found in the Faculty Directory and on faculty members' home pages.

Ken Baker researches cellular systems including the CDMA and LTE standards. He studies indoor wireless systems and the role that distributed antenna systems play. He investigates the challenges of positioning systems in indoor and cluttered environments.

Frank Barnes studies the biological effects of electromagnetic fields as well as the role that wireless communication can play in medical devices He also investigates the role of energy storage in the electric power grid.

Tim Brown studies challenged wireless networks such as mesh, ad hoc, and delay tolerant networks. He is investigating architectures for new models of spectrum access through cognitive radios and applying them to domains that include emergency services and aviation.

Lijun Chen's research aims to build rigorous foundations and develop new methodologies in optimization, game theory, and systems theory for modeling, analysis, design, and control of complex networked systems, in particular communication and computer networks and smart grids.

Jose Santos's research is centered on media streaming technologies for distance education as well as for development of remote lab capabilities. He works with students on numerous projects related to the latest IP technologies.

Scott Savage is currently studying: political determinants of pricing in partially deregulated markets; entry, competition and pricing in cable TV markets; the effect of telecom liberalization and network externalities on economic growth; and consumer preferences for broadband.

Doug Sicker's research interests include dynamic spectrum access for new models of spectrum management, developing models to address wireless security in new wireless systems and network and telecommunications policy.

Other notable Faculty Research Center Affiliations include:

  • Computer Science Research Centers
  • Center for Science and Technology Policy and Research
  • Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles
  • Silicon Flatirons Center
Industry Sources

Many individuals in industry identify interesting issues for investigation that they would like to follow up on . . . if they had more time. If you ask, some industry sources would be delighted to share such research ideas with a student who might help them answer a significant question. In a best case scenario, the industry source may wish to stay involved in the project and provide advice as your research goes forward. 

Personal Inspiration

You are a graduate student and should be positioned to make an intellectual contribution. You (along with perhaps others in your group) will do the work. Accordingly, identify an academic question that will be interesting for you as you go forward with the hard task of making an academic contribution in the field.    

Conclusions and "Suggested Next Steps" from Published Papers

Particularly if you know the general area in which you would like to research, read published papers in that area. Authors will often delimit the scope of a paper by designating certain issues to be answered at a later day. Additionally, authors sometimes suggest "next steps" that might help build on a paper's research. In either case, reading papers in your area of interest will often help you identify a ripe area for academic investigation.  

Conferences of the Silicon Flatirons Center

The Silicon Flatirons Center, co-sponsored by ITP and the Law School, offers an ongoing series of seminars, conferences, and other activities designed to illuminate issues of regulation, policy, and law of telecommunications, particularly as they interact with economics, technology, and business. Discussion at SFTP conferences often illuminates current issues in telecommunications that could provide the grist for excellent future student investigation.


The faculty and students of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program publish a number of capstone papers, master's theses, and working papers on a wide range of topics. Access a searchable database of these papers.

ITP Research Ideas 

A variety of trends are emerging in the Internet and telecommunications space and ITP tracks these with our coursework and our research.  Focus on key trends is summarized below.

A very prominent trend is development of new broadband networking technologies that enable anytime, anywhere broadband access.  Within this trend, ITP addresses several topics of note, such as new fiber optic and wireless local access architectures, challenges in the utilization of cloud-based service architectures to deliver broadband applications such as video streaming, Software Defined Networks and other technologies for improved network management capabilities, and the use of the Internet of Things for use in machine-to-machine communications and intelligent control of devices.

Another key trend on which ITP focuses is the emergence of wireless as a key enabler of broadband networking.  This is examined with a focus on multiband, frequency agile radios, and capabilities and requirements of key new unlicensed technologies such as Wi-Fi.

ITP coursework and research also covers the significant challenges of network security and privacy, dealing with design and implementation of secure protocols and networks, as well as the evolution of Internet monitoring and tracking technologies, and their implications on enterprise cybersecurity.

The range of ITP studies and research endeavors also extends to key policy arenas in ICT requiring interdisciplinary analysis and solutions, such as Open Internet, Internet governance, spectrum management, and content delivery over the Internet.

As noted above, this information is periodically updated with the most recent ideas posted at the top of this ITP Research Ideas list. Faculty contributes ideas for student research projects, including Master's theses, capstone, and independent ideas. These ideas represent novel research opportunities that often tie to active research projects and interests at the university.