Our Early Stage Researchers (ESRs)

Throughout summer and early autumn 2021, MENTOR partners across Europe will be actively recruiting six Early Stage Researchers (ESRs).

Once each ESR is recruited by the hosting academic beneficiary (Aston University UK, DTU Denmark, Sant’Anna Italy hosting two, UPC Spain also two), the beneficiaries will work together with partners Orange, TIM and Infinera Portugal and Germany to create optical networks solutions for the future.


Watch this space as the six positions are filled with the best early stage ML&AI researchers from across the globe.

Saqib Khan ESR1 AIPT
li zhang esr2
lareb khan

MENTOR Early Stage Researchers

ESR1 Saqib Khan obtained his Master’s in Computer Science from The Grenoble Institute of Technology, France, specialising in Data Science. During this time, he developed a machine learning approach to mitigate the problem of limited availability of data using transfer-based learning. Saqib brings several years of experience working on the development of machine learning solutions within the telecommunications, aerospace, and manufacturing industries. He has worked in the domain of the numerical analysis of systems to identify correlations of activity recognition, monitoring sensor data and measuring multimodal data streams from computing devices using neural networks ranging from multilayer perceptron to transformers and variational autoencoders. Saqib is pursuing his PhD at the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies at Aston University in the UK.

ESR2 Li Zhang received her Master’s in Communication Science and Engineering from Fudan University, Shanghai, China. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Machine Learning in Photonic Systems (MLiPS) with the DTU, Technical University of Denmark. Her research focuses on exploring few-shot learning strategy to enable smart communication systems with the ability of fast self-learning. Her work to date has provided a practical solution and overview for the smart visible light system, which specifically includes problems of classification for prompt data recognition and optimization for MIMO Precoding in the presence of Poisson noise. Recently, she has been working on a few-shot learning diagram to minimize the noise of the optical amplifier. This is expected to increase the transmission distance and decrease the computational overhead.

ESR3 Lareb Zar Khan received his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Pakistan in 2017. He then worked for Pakistan’s largest telecommunication company for two years where he mainly dealt with copper access networks. He was also a member of the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) project planning team. Following two years of industrial experience, he resumed his studies with an Erasmus Mundus graduate study program, PIXNET, where he spent the first year at Aston University (United Kingdom), the third semester at Osaka University (Japan) and the final semester at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Italy). In his Master’s thesis, he worked on Signal Processing Algorithms for Fiber Nonlinearity compensation. A particular focus was sequence selection technique, optimized for nonlinear channels in order to obtain an improved lower bound of achievable information rate.

MENTOR Project Co-ordinator

“The Early Stage Researchers, along with MENTOR’s industry and academic partners, will form a robust team with complementary skills and expertise”.


Professor Sergei K Turitsyn
Director of the Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies (AIPT), Aston University & MENTOR Project Co-ordinator

Each ESR will research an aspect of MENTOR’s remit. This will form the basis of their funded PhD, while also providing them with a network of contacts and the latest skills 

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