Group Director

The director of Alelab is Alejandro Ribeiro. Alejandro is the Rosenbluth Associate Professor with the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) where he started in 2008. Alejandro was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1975 where he received a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Universidad de la Republica in 1998. After getting his degree, Alejandro worked for Bellsouth’s cellular operation in Uruguay until 2003. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2003 to study at the University of Minnesota (UoM), receiving M. Sc. and Ph. D. degrees from the UoM in 2005 and 2008.

Alejandro’s research interest is on statistical signal processing, which is interesting because he doesn’t think much about statistics, signals, or processing. However, people in the know are aware that statistical signal processing is just a way of saying “making sense of information.” What exactly making sense of information means changes over time. Currently, Alejandro is working on large scale optimization, graph signal processing, analysis of network data, and wireless autonomous systems. If you want a description more detailed than this please refer to the group’s research page, or better yet, keep reading and learn about the other members of the group. They are the ones that do the bulk of the work. A historical snapshot of Alejandro’s work can be found in his Google Scholar profile.

Alejandro is a committed teacher and has been recognized by the  2012 S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award presented by the undergraduate student body of Penn Engineering for outstanding teaching as well as the Penn-wide 2017 Lindback award for distinguished teaching. Papers that Alejandro has coauthored received the 2014 O. Hugo Schuck best paper award and paper awards at the 2016 Workshop on Statistical Signal Processing, the 2016 Sensor Array, and Multichannel Signal Processing Workshop, the 2015 Asilomar Conference on Signals Systems and computers, the 2013 American Control Conference, and the 2005 and 2006 International Conferences on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing. Alejandro is a Fulbright Scholar class of 2003 and a Penn Fellow class of 2015.

Alejandro is proud to work with all of the members of Alelab but is embarrassed to be called director. He attributes this to having grown in a place where people make a point of keeping of a low profile. He insists that people call him Alejandro and the only honor he expects from people is that they consider him their equal. All of this is very funny because nobody would dream of calling him director of anything except while using a sarcastic tone.


Group Members


Aryan Mokhtari is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). Aryan was born in Gorgan, Iran, in 1989 where he lived until 2007. Aryan received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in 2011. Aryan started his Ph.D. at UPenn under the supervision of Dr. Alejandro Ribeiro in January 2012. He received his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the ESE Department of UPenn in Spring 2014. From June to August 2016, Aryan was a research intern in the Big-Data Machine Learning group at Yahoo!, Sunnyvale, CA. Aryan has received the Simons Institute Research Fellowship for the program on “Bridging Continuous and Discrete Optimization”. Aryan’s research interests include optimization, machine learning, signal processing, and control theory.


Alec Koppel is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and a participant in the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship Program sponsored by the American Society of Engineering Education. His sponsoring facility is the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, MD, where he has worked during doctoral summers. Starting in August of 2017, he will join the Intelligent Systems branch of the Computational and Information Sciences Directorate of ARL as a Research Scientist. Before coming to Penn, he completed his M.S. degree in Systems Science and Mathematics and B.A. degree in Mathematics at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. His research interests are in the areas of adaptive signal processing, deterministic and stochastic optimization, and learning theory. His current work focuses on the intersection of stochastic optimization, non-parametric regression, and reinforcement learning.


Santiago Paternain is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering from Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay in 2012. Since August 2013, he has been working toward the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering, University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include optimization and control of dynamical systems. In particular, he is applying time varying optimization tools to Model Predictive Control and developing optimization algorithms for nonconvex problems. In the recent past, he has worked on the design of motion planning strategies that allows a robot to find the source of a given signal while avoiding the obstacles in the environment.


Weiyu Huang is a fourth year Ph.D student in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) working with Dr. Alejandro Ribeiro. Weiyu received his B.Eng degree in electronics and telecommunication from the Australian National University (ANU) in 2012. From November 2011 to June 2013, Weiyu was a Broadcasting Engineer and Policy Officer with the Australian Communication and Media Authority , working on multiple projects to clear analog TV spectrums and to launch 4G LTE in Australia . Weiyu received University Medal (best graduates) and H. A. Johns Award (best academic achievement) offered by the ANU in 2012, Department Best Ph.D. Colloquium Award for academic year 2015–2016 and President Gutmann Leadership Award by Penn in 2017. His research interests include pattern recognition, signal processing, algorithms, and the study of networked data arising in human, social, and technological networks.


Mark Eisen received the B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA in 2014. He is now working towards his PhD in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. In the summer of 2013, he was a research intern at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Mr. Eisen was awarded Outstanding Student Presentation at the 2014 Joint Mathematics Meeting, as well as the recipient of the 2016 Penn Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. His primary research interests include distributed and stochastic optimization, and their uses in both large scale machine learning and wireless control problems. In addition, Mark has also done work in authorship attribution and stylometry. His study of open questions in Shakespearean authorship has since received some media attention.


Fernando Gama is a third year Ph.D. student at the Electrical and Systems Engineering department of the University of Pennsylvania. He is fundamentally interested in the task of extracting useful information from available data. He is currently working on the development of ergodic theorems for stationary graph processes that would allow for consistent estimation of the moments from a single realization. In the recent past, he has worked on the design of sketching-and-sampling schemes that would help lowering the computational cost of applying a linear transform to high-dimensional streaming signals. Additionally, he has been doing research in the area of topological data analysis by exploring hierarchical overlapping clustering using cut metrics. Fernando received an Electronic Engineering degree from the School of Engineering of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2013. He was awarded with a Fulbright scholarship for international students for 2014-2016.

Ekaterina Tolstaya is a PhD student in the Electrical and Systems Engineering department of the University of Pennsylvania. She is advised by Dr. Alejandro Ribeiro and Dr. Vijay Kumar. Her interests lie at the intersection of reinforcement learning and applied aerial robotics. Ekaterina is  a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She completed a B.S. degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland in 2016.