Current Student Spotlight: Kaustubh Dhondge

An Interdisciplinary Ph.D. student in Telecommunications & Computer Networking and Computer Science, Kaustubh Dhondge is also the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Student Council (IDSC) President for 2014-15 and the Editor for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (JIDR). In these roles, he serves the graduate students of UMKC by coordinating IDSC activities.

“That involves the travel grants we offer, and the Community of Scholars event which we organize with the support from the School of Graduate Studies that showcases the great research done by grad students at UMKC,” he said. “We also organize the IDSC Week and Family Picnic that helps grad students connect with each other in an informal setting.”

Dhondge received a BE and MS in Computer Science before starting his IPhD.

“I chose UMKC over other prospective graduate schools as I found that it offers several competitive funding and scholarship opportunities via the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) for its graduate students. The environment at the school is very conducive for good research and the faculty and administrators actually care about the success of their graduate students,” he said. “For my MS thesis I knew I had a great adviser [Dr. Baek-Young Choi], and it played an important role in helping me decide to continue at UMKC for my Ph.D. studies.”

With the same depth in research as a one-discipline traditional Ph.D. program, Dhondge said the IPhD program also adds breadth.

“This in turn can greatly enhance the worth of the Ph.D. when the students are in the job-market and improve their employability,” he said. “I see several schools in my field advertising for tenure-track faculty positions that are looking for Ph.D. graduates who have had experience in interdisciplinary research, and can help them start an interdisciplinary program at their schools.”

Dhondge said his journey thus far through the IPhD program has been rewarding and a learning experience.

“I got opportunities to work, interact with, and learn from students and faculty not only from UMKC but also from other schools in the UM System thanks to the Graduate Student Leadership Development Program,” he said. “Apart from the bleeding edge research and the freedom to explore research topics of my choice – I have enjoyed serving the graduate student community at UMKC through IDSC and other opportunities.”

The topic Dhondge has chosen for his dissertation involves device security for smart phones and other smart devices.

“We are developing a secure hardware token that can authenticate a smartphone user in a fast, inexpensive, reliable and energy-efficient manner,” he said. “It is unique in the sense that it uses visible light as a communication mechanism between the token and smartphone. This project is supported by the SGS Research Grant.”

Dhondge will graduate in either summer or fall 2015, after which he will attain either a tenure-track position in academia or a research position in the industry.

“Both have their sets of pros and cons but more importantly both offer unique and challenging research problems to solve,” he said.

According to Dhondge, students who are interested in the IPhD program should explore and understand why they want to obtain a Ph.D. and what they will do with it.

“Once they have answer to that question choosing IPh.D. Program over a single-focus Ph.D. program becomes very obvious,” he said. “Also, apart from focusing on your research, be involved with activities that give you the opportunity to serve your graduate community. It is an immensely rewarding experience, and gives you hands-on training with leadership opportunities.”

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