Leslie Ann Rusch

Leslie Ann Rusch

Génie électrique et génie informatique
Université Laval

Chair title

NSERC/Huawei Industrial Research Chair in Fibre Optic Communications Systems (FOCUS Systems)

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2019


Optical communication is the backbone of our global society, touching our lives in obvious and subtle ways. Optical links enable universal connectivity: from our smart phones to our social media. They are behind our access to a myriad of services, from commercial to governmental. The per-channel capacity of optical fibres saw tremendous increases in previous decades, but we are now approaching the physical limits of standard optical fibres. All the while, Internet traffic continues to increase. By addressing improved system architectures, digital signal processing and component design, the Chair will foster a stronger, suppler Internet backbone supporting the innovation our community relies upon.

The Chair will help reinvent the optical fibre to carry multiple modes of light where old fibres carry one, by investigating spatial division multiplexing with multiple modes in a single fibre core (also known as modal multiplexing). The Chair will answer questions on the nature of receivers for these systems, the scalability of simple receiver structures with distance and the challenges in combining modal multiplexing with wavelength division multiplexing. The Chair will create tools for fibre design, models of interactions, improved fibres and an understanding of how interactions translate to receiver complexity.

The Chair will grapple with how we can bring artificial intelligence to bear to enhance optical communications systems. The Chair will explore systems where standard modulation approaches are ineffective due to the complex and intractable nature of the link. The Chair will examine machine learning for constellation design, nonlinear predistortion, system/receiver architecture and fibre design. The resulting innovations will be compatible with elastic optical networks of the future that can maximize capacity by actively tweaking the improvements enabled by the Chair.

The research program will be led by Prof. Leslie A. Rusch, director of the FOCUS Lab Université Laval-Huawei collaborative research centre, fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Optical Society of America and holder of a Canada Research Chair in Communications Systems Enabling the Cloud. She has industrial research experience with Intel Labs; developed the digital signal processing to achieve the greatest reported data rates in silicon photonics modulators; is globally recognized for her leadership in spatial multiplexing with orbital angular momentum modes; and has won awards for the quality of her training.

Huawei Canada is the industrial partner. Huawei is a global market leader in optical communications systems equipment, with extensive R&D facilities in the Ottawa area. Huawei Canada’s new Quebec City facility is creating jobs to foster in-depth collaboration with Université Laval. Research engineers from Huawei will work side by side with students under the Chair to enhance their training and to give them an industry-centric view of major research challenges.

Partnering with a pre-eminent telecommunications provider positions Canada as a leader in the field. Industrially oriented research creates highly qualified personnel who are in great demand throughout the vibrant community of small and medium-size companies in the optical and communications sector in Quebec City, the province of Quebec and Canada at large. The skills acquired by students under the Chair are transportable across many market sectors.

Canadians at large will benefit from an enhanced quality of life that has historically grown with innovations fostered by greater connectivity. A reliable, cost-effective and ubiquitous connectivity is needed to deploy the smart systems that will make our occupation of the planet more sustainable.


  • Huawei Technologies Canada Co. Ltd.

Contact information

Génie électrique et génie informatique
Université Laval



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