Colleen Josephson

 Enabling sustainable sensor networks with RF backscatter


We need affordable and innovative sensing to assist in tackling global-scale problems like sustainably feeding the next billion. RF backscatter systems such as RFID are well-known in the sensing community because of their low power consumption. This talk explores how we can enable robust indoor/outdoor RF-backscatter sensing by leveraging advances in low-power embedded systems. It will describe the challenges faced in low-power and sustainable sensor networks, and provide an overview of an outdoor radar backscatter sensing system that uses RF to measure soil moisture with accuracy comparable to state-of-the-art commercial sensors, but at a fraction of the cost. Also to be discussed is recent work on renewably powering outdoor sensor systems via energy harvested from non-traditional sources like microbes.

Colleen Josephson


Colleen Josephson is an Assistant Professor at UC Santa Cruz, where she leads the jLab in Smart Sensing, and is actively recruiting PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Her research interests include wireless communication and sensing systems, with a focus on technologies to enable and improve sustainable practices. Her work includes designing novel sensing paradigms for agriculture, inventing techniques for ultra-low power communication in indoor sensor networks, and exploiting non-traditional energy sources, such as microbes, for sustainable sensing. Colleen completed her PhD in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Before beginning her PhD, she worked at Cisco Meraki as a wireless engineer, and even before that she received her SB and MEng degrees from MIT. In 2022, she was recognized as a Rising Star in Computer Networking and Communications and appointed as an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on AgriFood Electronics.