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    Michelle Effros

    So much data, so little bandwidth. That’s the mounting problem Caltech professor of electrical engineering Michelle Effros has wrestled with for 10 years. Her innovations in data compression over networks are so original that Stanford University electrical engineering vice chair Robert Gray calls them “profound.” Her heady work has almost single-handedly created research interest in algorithms to optimize transmission of data over busy,noisy networks like the Internet and various wireless infrastructures. At first “it was hard even to get peer reviews of research,” she recalls. But Effros persisted. “I like working further out. Entrepreneurism is not what excites me—research into new areas does.” Today, however, her algorithms set the standard for academic- and commercial-network compression techniques. And the recreational mountain hiker says with a smile that her once neglected field now teems with breakthroughs. “We are really starting to crack the data compression problem,” Effros says. “Progress is coming much faster now.”