The Incredible Journey from Indian Village Government School to Prestigious UK University-Dr. Sukhpal Singh Gill
Dr. Sukhpal Singh Gill is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Cloud Computing at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Queen Mary University of London, UK. Prior to this, Dr. Gill has held positions as a Research Associate at Evolving Distributed Systems Lab at the School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University, UK and also as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems (CLOUDS) Laboratory, School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Gill was a visiting researcher at Imperial College London, Monash University and University of Manitoba. He has received several awards, including the Distinguished Reviewer Award from Software: Practice and Experience (Wiley), 2018, and served as the PC member for venues such as UCC, SE-CLOUD, ICCCN, ICDICT and SCES. One of his review paper has been nominated and selected for the ACM 21st annual Best of Computing Notable Books and Articles as one of the notable items published in computing – 2016. He has published more than 50 papers as a leading author in highly ranked journals and conferences with h-index of 17 (Google Scholar). Previously, Dr. Gill also worked in the Computer Science and Engineering Department of Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), Patiala, India, as a Lecturer. He obtained his Master of Engineering in Software Engineering (Gold Medalist), as well as a Doctoral Degree specializing in Autonomic Cloud Computing from TIET. He was a DST (Department of Science and Technology) Inspire Fellow during Doctorate and worked as a SRF-Professional on DST Project, Government of India. His research interests include Cloud Computing, Fog Computing, Software Engineering, Internet of Things and Big Data. For further information, please visit www.ssgill.me.
Question 1 : Why do you consider yourself a researcher?
Answer: To be precise, one of the best way to explain it would be I am passionate about new things, new trend in the area of computing and trying to solve research problems, which motivate me towards my passion about Eco-friendly Cloud Computing. I published my first independent research paper as an undergraduate student and was invited to present my work at a National Level Technical Symposium on Emerging Trends in Technology, 9th-10th April 2010. My research interests span diverse domains including Cloud Computing, Autonomic Computing and Software Engineering. As a result, I have had the privilege of working with prominent researchers such as Prof. Rajkumar Buyya and Prof. Rao Kotagiri and published 50+ research articles in highly ranked journals such as IEEE TCC, JSS, CCPE and ACM CSUR as leading author. My current research interest includes Energy Efficiency and Resource Management in particular and I am focused on management of cloud datacenters while mitigating their impacts on environment.
Question 2. Which areas of research interests you?
Answer: My research areas include Cloud Computing, Energy Efficiency, Quality of Service (QoS), Software Engineering, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, Edge Computing and Fog Computing.
Question 3. What was your experience as DST Inspire Fellow during doctorate?
Answer: I was the first PhD student of Computer Science and Engineering Department of Thapar University, who successfully received DST Inspire Fellowship. It is a fellowship scheme that comes under Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE), a flagship programme of DST. DST Inspire Fellowship is most prestigious fellowship in India, and it is awarded to the first rank holders (University Gold Medalist) in Master’s Program to pursue Doctor of Philosophy in Sciences and Engineering. It was a great experience while I worked as a DST Inspire Fellow and it supported my research work during my doctorate.
Question 4: Please explain how receiving a scholarship or fellowship made a difference to your personal life?
Answer: I belongs to developing nation and my family background was not economically very good. I come from an agriculture-based family. My father is a farmer and heart patient and he cannot afford my higher education expenses especially to pursue Master’s and PhD at Thapar University. I did Bachelors with Niskam Scholarship, Masters with GATE Scholarship and Doctorate with DST Inspire Fellowship. With the support of these scholarships or fellowships, I completed my professional degrees and published research work in reputed journals and conferences. During PhD, I saved some money from my DST Inspire Fellowship and utilized that money for Civil Services (UPSC) preparation at ALS VSAT – Satellite Education at Patiala.
Question 5: What is the research scope of cloud computing in countries like India? And how it is different from any developed nation?
Answer: The scope of Cloud computing is less broad in India. During one of my interviews at my home country, I’ve been told by the experts that Software Engineering is a light-weight subject and Cloud Computing will never be fully recognized as one. Yet, presently, I am working as a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Cloud Computing at the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science in the Queen Mary University of London, UK. Both Software Engineering and Cloud Computing underpin the teachings of modern Computer Science in the UK, which in my opinion must be recognized more in less developed nations such as India. Indian researchers must focus on IoT based applications such as agriculture, traffic management, healthcare and smart city to achieve the motto of Digital India.
Question 6: How would you like to extend your work towards cloud computing?
Answer: I am already extending my work on real time IoT applications such as agriculture, healthcare, smart city within the area of cloud and fog computing. My main focus would be on reliability and sustainability of cloud services at run-time managing all the cloud resources (network, cooling, memory, storage and processor) holistically.
Question 7: Which areas would you be interested to collaborate?
Answer: I am interested to work on systematic engineering of scalable solutions, which are targeted towards real problems and emerging computing paradigms such as Cloud Computing, Fog Computing and Service Computing. I want to work on the development of novel real-world systems capable of meeting the challenges/QoS requirements of emerging distributed applications, finding paradigms such as Cloud/Edge/Fog Computing, Serverless Computing and the Internet of Things.
Question 8: Research is a lonesome journey. What keeps you motivated?
Answer: I have enjoyed the research journey since I presented my first paper as a single author during bachelor in 2010. My efforts have often been awarded for recognition and scholarships, which has allowed me to travel from my home in Delhi, Chennai and across the globe to Australia, Canada and the UK. I would not have achieved my success without the support of my supervisor Prof. Inderveer Chana both at Masters and Doctorate level, who provided me with guidance and support during my early career. During Masters, I have done research work on QoS based Cloud Resource Management and decided to continue my same research work in Doctorate. Further, I received Gold Medal during the degree of Master of Engineering in Software Engineering which helped me get DST Inspire Fellowship to purse PhD at Thapar University on Autonomic Cloud Computing. I finished my PhD in less than 3 years with 18 research publications as a leading author in reputed journals and conferences and joined Thapar University as a Lecturer while continuing my research work without any Masters or PhD student, which helps me to work independently. The work I did at Thapar University with Prof. Chana helped me to get Postdoc at prestigious research lab i.e. Cloud Computing and Distributed Systems (CLOUDS) Laboratory, School of Computing and Information Systems, The University of Melbourne, Australia. Furthermore, I joined Evolving Distributed Systems Lab at the School of Computing and Communications, Lancaster University, UK as a Research Associate. During my time in the UK, I have had the opportunity to observe operations of cloud data center. I joined Thapar University for PhD instead of IIT/IISC which was a right decision. It is always better to choose a supervisor instead of brand name. I always focused on quality publication with selected and eminent coauthors that make a real difference. The best example is my recent publication “Holistic resource management for sustainable and reliable cloud computing: An innovative solution to global challenge”. I have shared my research experience by publishing an article titled “Research Methodology: A Practitioner Approach”, which is available at https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1097383. Further, I have given research talks at well-known highly ranked institutes such as Imperial College London, Monash University and University of Manitoba to keep myself motivated.
Question 9: Have you faced any failures or tough time in life?
Answer: Since I left my village for higher education in 2006, it was really a tough and hard journey and I faced lot of challenges every day. Earlier, I was not good in English as well. It was very challenging to compete at University/College level for/during graduation after studying from village government schools. I went through this same situation, it was really hard. It’s a bitter and hidden part of our society. I completed my B.Tech. with distinction, but I did not get job anywhere. Same time, I did not qualify GATE exam. Then, I joined a local engineering college for teaching for one year, and I got very good experience as well as I qualified GATE exam while working there and joined Masters at Thapar University and secured highest CGPA and received Gold Medal, which helped me to get DST Inspire Fellowship. The one more big failure I faced i.e. Civil Services (UPSC) Exam, I tried twice, but I could not make it because it needed more time then I decided to leave India and Joined CLOUDS Lab at University of Melbourne as a Postdoc. From my experience, I can say at the end “every obstacle is a stepping stone to future success”.
Question 10: Any message you would like to give to young scholars to do path-breaking research.
Answer: In my opinion, young research scholars should focus on high impact research quality and novelty and try to solve real time problems without thinking about quantity of publications or number game. I think, it would be better to focus on interdisciplinary research while solving the problems of other important domains such as medical, geospatial data management and environment. Always remember “Great things take time”. Your research work should deliver some product instead “just a piece of paper”.