The Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN) and the Role of Networks in Research


Pankaj M. Shah

Dr. Pankaj M. Shah
President and CEO
Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN)

Akbar Kara

Mr. Akbar Kara
Chief Technology Officer
Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN)

Location: Rudder Tower - Room 301
Time: December 18, 2017 - 2:00-3:00pm


The LEARN network provides high speed network connectivity between education institutions within Texas, and to other US and international research and education networks. With the increasing dependence of research on collaboration across large teams at multiple institutions, being able to acquire a nd work with large data sets, and to reach out and use domain-specific and generic cloud computing and storage resources, "the network" has become a critical piece of cyber-infrastructure for research competitiveness. In this talk Mr. Shah and Mr Kara will discuss what LEARN is, and more generally what "the network" is and how it plays an invisible but central role in successful team science and scholarship. Along the way, we will also cover Texas A&M's place in the global internet, and how it is transforming the way we work with information, collaborate and conduct research and scholarship.

Speaker Bios:

Dr. Pankaj Shah

Pankaj Shah became President and CEO of the LEARN: Lonestar Education and Research Network on January 1, 2016. In the past 22 months, Pankaj has worked closely with the LEARN Board of Directors to create a strategic plan, which emphasizes working closely with K-12, cities, counties, local government, and public entities in addition to higher education. Prior to assuming the position at LEARN, Pankaj served as the Executive Director of the Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet) and the Ohio Supercomputer Center for more than 10 years.

As a leader committed to bringing Ohio the best in networking, supercomputing, and IT capabilities, Pankaj searched for ways to consolidate and standardize the organizations' shared services and expand their capabilities. Under Pankaj's leadership, OARnet helped Ohio become a broadband state with an expansive network backbone and research and education services while partnering with the private sector to create economic development opportunities.

Mr. Akbar Kara

Akbar Kara is the CTO of an advance research & education network, Lonestar Education and Research Network (LEARN). Akbar studied Electrical Engineering at the City College of New York and Business management at New York University. Akbar is Chair Emeritus of Internet2’s Network Technical Advisory Committee (NTAC) and he is serving in leadership roles at the IEEE/ACM Supercomputing SCinet committee.

At LEARN, Akbar leads a team of engineers responsible for network engineering and operations for the statewide optical transport and IP/MPLS networks. LEARN operates 31 points of presence and the network spans over 3,200 route miles. LEARN is a non-profit organization which connects Texas K-12, high er education, researchers, and public service organizations to commodity Internet and national research and education backbones. LEARN services are used by a large number of public schools, community colleges, and research universities in Texas. Under Akbar’s leadership, LEARN is the first non-profit network to enable 100G capability to support research in Texas.


The Lonestar Education And Research Network is a consortium of 39 organizations throughout Texas that includes public and private institutions of higher education, community colleges, the National Weather Service, and K-12 public schools. The consortium, organized as a 501(c)(3), connects these organizations, and over 650 affiliated organizations, together with high performance advanced network services to support their research, education, healthcare and public service missions. LEARN is also a part of a national community of research optical networks, and provides Texas connectivity to the national and international research and education networks.