Will expanding Wi-Fi access in major urban cities help close the digital divide? How do we “decarbonize the Internet?” These questions and others are being rigorously investigated by the PTC Emerging Scholar Program. Established in 2013, the PTC Emerging Scholar Program (formerly the Young Scholar Program) has driven PTC’s mission to further ICT use and development in an ethical and appropriate manner throughout the Pacific region and beyond. Every year, a competitive application process selects up-and-coming scholars from relevant Ph.D. programs around the world. Those selected tend to share a desire to connect their academic research to the industry and sees the PTC Annual Conference as an avenue to extend their work while contributing to the long-standing research tradition of the organization.
Further honoring PTC’s research legacy, the Meheroo Jussawalla Research Award is given to the research paper selected as the best paper of the year. The award is named for the founder of the PTC Research Group, a seminal scholar in the field of telecommunications, and honors her legacy by bringing a high-quality and original research effort to the PTC Annual Conference.
The 2023 winner Richard Canevez, postdoctoral fellow, University of Hawaii at Manoa (now assistant professor at Michigan Technological University), presented his paper on combating adversarial states’ efforts to conduct war through “information disorders.”
The 2023 Emerging Scholars came from several top universities including Penn State University, New York University, Ghent University (Belgium), Keio University, and University of Colorado Boulder. In past years, scholars have come from Harvard, University of Cape Town, Indian Institute of Management, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and University of Oxford, among others. This program has provided a springboard for knowledge sharing and collaboration among the growing Emerging Scholar Program alumni and Meheroo Jussawalla awardees who continue to cultivate the network of working relationships as they collectively move forward in their careers that span government, industry, law, NGOs and IO’s, as well as academia. These scholars serve as global ambassadors for the program and for PTC, adding new voices and influences to the PTC Community.
The scholars who attend the PTC Annual Conference take the many opportunities made available to them to network with the research community. They participate in the program, where they discuss their research and learn about the historical linkages between PTC’s academic and long-standing participant companies as well as PTC’s overall research efforts to bridge the gaps between theory and practice. Each scholar provides an original paper that they present at the PTC Annual Conference, adding to the rigor and currency of the overall program. This valuable work is available to participants and members, and they additionally provide perspectives through other PTC avenues like the PTC Blog and Touchpoints. Several Emerging Scholars and Meheroo Jussawalla award winners have likewise contributed to the previously published PTC Broadband Reports. Overall, their participation has helped infuse PTC with new perspectives and approaches that are accessible to the entire PTC Community.
A key value of the Emerging Scholar Program and research award is the in-depth understanding around focused questions, which helps inform a wider understanding of pressing issues like the digital divide and climate change. For example, the work of one of 2023’s Emerging Scholars, Ryan Wang from Penn State University, examined Wi-Fi hotspot deployment in New York City, which is part of the city’s Internet Master Plan, and found that efforts intended to improve access have paradoxically appeared to reinforce existing gaps. Exposure to this kind of empirical research can give PTC Annual Conference attendees a critical lens to assess a wide range of policy initiatives.
Another 2023 Emerging Scholar, George Ramirez from New York University, is investigating the environmental impact of the subsea telecommunications network, which has been largely overlooked. Presenting his work with a focus on the subsea cable industry, he participated in both the PTC research sessions and industry presentations and discussions.
The Emerging Scholar program and Meheroo Jussawalla Research Award support PTC’s thought leadership through many levels of the communications industry from policy circles, industry, and academia as its network of scholars provide research and recommendations that support the global communications ecosystem. PTC is a leader among industry organizations in its continuing support of scholarship in the field and its dissemination to a wide range of critical stakeholders.