Bren School faculty, students and research initiatives are some of the most well regarded successes on the UC Irvine campus. We are pleased to announce the following noteworthy achievements.
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $240,000 Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) to three UCI professors who are researching distraction in security. The co-principal investigators for the project include Informatics Professor Alfred Kobsa, Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik, and Associate Professor of Cognitive Science Bruce Berg.
Today’s technology allows, and sometimes requires, people to engage in security-critical tasks in often distracting public spaces. For example, a user may need to enter a PIN, enter a password, or solve a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) on his smartphone in distracting settings. According to the group’s proposal summary, “User errors or delays while performing security-critical tasks can lead to undesirable or even disastrous consequences.” The impact of such errors or delays has yet to be investigated. However, using a fully automated experimental setup, this project will study whether and how sensory stimuli influence users’ behavior and trigger mistakes.
The project is in its preliminary stages, but, according to the professors, it entails two potentially transformational research ideas: “If sensory stimuli have a negative effect on users performing security-relevant tasks, its better understanding can lead to awareness and eventual countermeasures,” they say. “If, however, certain auditory stimuli actually improve user performance, new opportunities would arise for applying audio stimuli as a means of aiding users.” The work also “further explores the feasibility of conducting security-related user studies in a fully automated manner, which makes large-scale studies feasible and also avoids any potential experimenter bias.”
According to the NSF website, funding from the NSF EAGER program “may be used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.” NSF EAGER-funded projects often entail radically different and experimental approaches to scientific research.
Computing Reviews (CR), an Association for Computing Machinery/ThinkLoud publication, has released its 19th Annual Best of Computing list, a compilation of the most interesting books and articles published in 2014. Among the 87 books recognized on this year’s list are two from ICS faculty: Professor Cristina Videira Lopes’ Exercises in Programming Style and Professor Judith Olson’s Ways of Knowing in HCI. The Notable Books and Articles for 2014 list brings together influential items published in computing last year based on nominations from CR reviewers, category editors, editors-in-chief of journals, and others in the computing community.
If you’re an ICS faculty member and we missed your name, please contact email@example.com.
Graduate students from the SPROUT (Security & Privacy Research OUTfit) and SSLLAB (Secure Systems & Software Laboratory) research groups at UCI collaborated as a team, called KHCZUU Labs, to participate in this year’s UC Santa Barbara International Capture The Flag (iCTF) competition. The iCTF contest is an annual competition where academic teams pit their skills at cyber attacks and defenses against each other. In security capture-the-flag events, the teams compete to try to find vulnerabilities in programs provided by the organizers and hack other teams to steal “flags,” while defending their own flags. CTF events provide a realistic but safe environment to learn and practice how real-world computer security works.
Even though most of the UCI team members were new to the competition, KHCZUU still managed to place third out of the U.S. teams and 31st overall, out of nearly 100 participating teams. "The whole team is looking forward to next year’s competition and plans to practice the necessary computer security skills in the meantime," says UCI Ph.D. candidate Stephen Crane. “For most on the team, this was their first experience with capture-the-flag-style competitions, and the competition was an amazing learning experience for everyone who participated.”
Congratulations to everyone who competed on this year's KHCZUU team: Brian Belleville, Stephen Crane, Sky Faber, Cesar Ghali, Julian Lettner, Ekin Oguz, Mohaned Qunaibit, Marc Schlosberg, and Stijn Volckaert (visiting scholar from Ghent University).
Watch a time-lapse video of the competition here.
Chancellor's Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik and Alberto Compagno, a visiting Ph.D. student from University of Rome (Italy), co-authored a paper titled “Violating Consumer Anonymity: Geo-locating Nodes in Named Data Networking” that received the Best Student Paper Award at the 13th International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security 2015 (ACNS 2015), which took place in New York in June. The paper's other authors included Mauro Conti (University of Padua), Paolo Gasti (New York Institute of Technology) and Luigi V. Mancini (Sapienza University of Rome). View a PDF of the paper here.
As the 2014-2015 academic year winds down, we’d like to congratulate the following ICS students and postdocs on the jobs they’ve accepted as they leave UCI:
- Lynn Dombrowski accepted a tenure track position at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
- Julia Haines accepted a position at Google
- Bart Knijnenburg accepted a tenure track position at Clemson University
- Thomas LaToza accepted a tenure track position at George Mason University
- Lilly Nguyen accepted a tenure track position at UNC in Chapel Hill
- Sunyoung Park accepted a tenure track position at the University of Michigan
- Paco Servant accepted a tenure track position at Virginia Tech
- Six Silberman accepted a position at IG Metall in Germany
We’re also excited to see that a number of our ICS students have secured some amazing internships that will provide them with hands-on industry experience. Here’s a list of the students and where they’ll be interning:
- Lee Martie – TJ Watson
- Eugenia Grabrielova – SPAWAR Systems Pacific in San Diego
- Maryam Kadhemi – Intel in Santa Clara
- Martin Shelton – Google
- Di Yang – GrammaTech in Ithaca, NY
- Arthur Valadares – Broadcom in Irvine
- Mengyao Zhao – Xerox in El Segundo
Congratulations to all of our ICS students and soon-to-be alumni. Keep up the good work and let us know us about all of your career achievements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Those graduating this spring with advanced degrees in statistics, informatics, computer science and other information sciences can rest easy, according to a graduate degree and job prospect report released by Fortune magazine. Time Inc.’s business magazine—best known for its business revenue ranking list the “Fortune 500”—commissioned career website PayScale to identify the top 15 graduate degrees that lead to lucrative careers, and those that lead to high stress and low pay. The top four graduate degrees included doctorates in statistics and computer science, and master’s degrees in biostatistics and human-computer interaction. Several information science-related degrees rounded out the top 15, including master’s degrees in statistics, computer science, software engineering, and information science.
The Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) offers graduate degrees in nearly all of these fields, with master’s and doctoral degrees offered in statistics, computer science, software engineering, and an innovative approach to human-computer-interaction with the informatics program. ICS was ranked 23rd worldwide among computer science graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report in 2014.
PayScale evaluated graduate degrees based on long-term outlook for job growth, mid-career median salaries, job satisfaction scores and work stress levels. Specific breakdowns of these figures can be found in Fortune’s complete report.
College Magazine ranked UC Irvine first in its list “10 Best Schools for Gamers,” while the university placed in the top 20% nationally on the Animation Career Review’s (ACR) 2015 Game Design and Development School Rankings, both rankings came out in May 2015. ACR ranked UC Irvine’s game development cachet 25th nationally, eighth among public institutions and the sixth best on the West Coast. Among the reasons for the No. 1 ranking, College Magazine commended UCI’s consistently strong showing at the annual IvyLoL National Championship, a collegiate League of Legends tournament, observing: “With a gaming community half a thousand students strong, UC Irvine proves that games are only fun if you have people to share them with.”
Both lists recognize UCI’s computer game science major, offered by ICS, which combines a solid foundation in computer science with a focus on designing, building, and understanding computer games and other forms of interactive media. The fundamentals of information and computer science — along with coursework in mathematics, statistics, physics, and film and media studies — provide students with the concepts and tools to study a wide scope of computer game technologies.
"I'm excited to see that UC Irvine's computer game science major is moving up in the rankings,” says Informatics Lecturer Dan Frost. “The world is discovering what our students already know — that we provide a top-notch education, an enthusiastic student body and faculty, and an excellent track record of placing students in game-industry jobs."
Hal Stern, dean of the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences and professor of statistics, will help lead a new national Forensic Science Center of Excellence. Aimed at improving criminal evidence analysis and reducing wrongful convictions, it will be funded by a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Institute of Standards & Technology. The campus will receive about $4 million, to be used by ICS and social ecology faculty and students. “UC Irvine is honored to be a part of this. There is a critical need to advance the scientific underpinnings for the analysis of forensic evidence – including fingerprints, firearms, marks left by tools, and documents – and to ensure that participants in the law enforcement process have a strong understanding of proper analyses and interpretation,” said Stern, who is principal investigator for UCI. The center, headquartered at Iowa State University, also will partner with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia. It will incorporate both a research agenda – developing new probabilistic methods and statistical tools – and education to ensure that judges, lawyers and investigators can effectively utilize the results of forensic analyses. For more information, visit here.
UCI has been awarded $1.25 million from NASA as part of a new $5-million 5-year award to establish a new center at Cal State LA for STEM education. This new center will collaborate with UCI’s Data Science Initiative and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)’s Center for Data Science and Technology to train undergraduate and masters students in areas such as climate change, hydrology, computational physics, and data science with an emphasis on minority and low-income students.
Professor Padhraic Smyth, UCI Data Science Initiative Director, will be UCI’s PI on the project and will be working with five other UCI faculty members from engineering, physical science and computer science to host Cal State LA students for short summer workshops and lab visits. The funding will support a project coordinator and provide some summer support for participating faculty and Ph.D. students.
For more information, click here.
Statistics professor Hernando Ombao has received a $160,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for his collaborative research project, “Bayesian State-Space Models for Behavioral Time Series Data.” With a focus on neuroscience and its analysis and integration of behavioral and neural-derived data, the project will develop novel statistical models and inferential methods for the analysis of multi-domain behavioral data and time series with complex temporal and dependence structures.
“This NSF proposal will be useful as we build our group of students at UCI who are working on statistical methods that will push forward boundaries of neuroscience research,” Ombao says.
Such research has broad-reaching impact, with the potential to advance knowledge on the neural underpinnings of human and animal behavior; integrate data from different domains to be used by behavioral scientists to test directly for associations between decision making and brain response; and advance knowledge in other fields that collect temporal data with complex structure, such as sociology (network modeling), environmental sciences, linguistics and signal processing.
The grant comes from the NSF’s Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES). According to the SES website, the division “seeks to enhance our understanding of human, social and organizational behavior by building social science infrastructure, [and] by developing social disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects that advance knowledge in the social and economic sciences.”
Read more information about Ombao's research project here.
Informatics Ph.D. student Katherine Lo has received the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship supports women in technology with a $10,000 financial award for the academic year as well as an invitation to the annual Google Scholars' Retreat, which offers unique professional development and community outreach opportunities, at the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif. In addition to her Ph.D. studies, Lo is an adviser to the student organization Women in Information and Computer Sciences (WICS) at UC Irvine. She has previously received an honorable mention from the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP).
The scholarship is named for the late Dr. Anita Borg, who was committed to dismantling barriers for women and minorities in technology. Google memorializes Dr. Borg through this scholarship in “hopes to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders in the field,” according to the scholarship website.
Informatics Professor Judith Olson has won many accolades and been widely published over the years, but it’s not often that you are recognized by the likes of Google Co-founder and CEO Larry Page. In a book recently released titled The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, Page acknowledges the impact Olson had on him as a student: "The college course that made the greatest impression on me was one on human-computer interaction taught by Judith Olson. The goal was to understand how to design interfaces that were easy and intuitive."
Three graduate students from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) have just received the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP). Informatics students Oliver Haimson and Van Erick Custodio and statistics student Maricela Cruz join 2,000 students nationwide to be awarded the fellowship in 2015. Informatics student Katherine Lo also received an honorable mention in the highly competitive program. Haimson, Custodio and Cruz contribute to UC Irvine’s 35 total awardees in 2015, while Lo joins an additional 37 honorable mentions across campus.
“I'm very humbled by this award to be included in such great company both present and those that came before,” says Custodio. “My research will greatly benefit from this award in that it gives me the freedom to explore the far reaches of my imagination. Receiving the NSF GRFP award allows me to broadly share the story I have to tell through my research. I am excited about the difference in the world my research can make because of this fellowship. This, I hope, is the first of many signs that my work has potential to contribute to the research community and society at large.”
Founded in 1952, the NSF GRFP provides graduate students in the early stages of their research with three years of support, including a $34,000 annual stipend and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to their institution. Fellows enjoy supercomputer access, as well as the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Research Intern Program (GRIP) and the Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide Program (GROW). Past GRFP recipients have gone on to make significant scientific and engineering breakthroughs, with some even becoming Nobel laureates.
At the recent 2015 iDash Privacy & Security Workshop at UC San Diego, two of Chancellor’s Professor Gene Tsudik's lab members, Sky Faber (a fourth year Ph.D. student) and Luca Ferretti (a visiting Ph.D. student from University of Modena, Italy), were winners of the iDASH Genome Privacy Protection Competition for their solution to "Task 2: Secure comparison between genomic data." As part of winning this competition, they received a $300 prize.
South by Southwest’s education conference (SXSWedu) held in Austin, Texas, invited research scientist Mimi Ito to present at its newly formed closing program in March. Ito discussed “connected learning,” the concept of harnessing information and social connectivity for education. She presented alongside GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli, actress and founder of Hawn Foundation Goldie Hawn, and Khan Academy founder and Executive Director Sal Khan.
The single-stage closing program highlighted unique educational convergences by exploring education through the lens of music, film and interactive technologies. “The closing session is a new format, and intended to bridge the education and interactive programs,” Ito says. “I think it is an important signal that we need to find ways to unite the social agenda of educational reform to innovative technology approaches.”
Ito’s discussion of connected learning advocated for using today's tools to advance the longstanding goals of progressive education. “Too often, new educational technologies are used to reinforce traditional forms of education which we know are not effective or empowering to the learner. We have the opportunity to change that,” she says.
Chancellor's Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik is speaking as part of the Institute for Security, Privacy and Information Assurance (ISPIA) Distinguished Lecture Series at the University of Calgary on Thursday, March 26. Tsudik' lecture, titled "Elements of Trust in Named-Data Network," will provide a brief overview of NDN and a summary of various secuirty and privacy issues, while focusing on network-layer trust management. Motivated by the need to mitigate so-called "content poisoning" attacks, Tsudik will also explore the design of a trust management architecture for NDN. For more information, visit the ISPIA site.
Information Schools (iSchools) has awarded recent ICS Ph.D. graduate Xinru Page a Best Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation “Factors that Influence Adoption and Use of Location-Sharing Social Media,” which seeks to understand real-world factors shaping behaviors and attitudes toward location-sharing social networks (LSSN), especially as to why people avoid or abandon this technology, or limit their usage. Page, now an assistant professor in computer information systems at Bentley University, was advised by Informatics Professor Alfred Kobsa. Her current research interests include privacy, technology adoption, interpersonal communication, social media and human computer interaction. During her time with ICS, she received a Dean’s Fellowship and Yahoo! Best Dissertation Fellowship Award. She will receive her latest $2,500 prize at this week’s iConference, iSchools’ international gathering of scholars and researchers concerned with critical information issues in contemporary society. The iSchools selection committee, drawn from leading international schools, noted that Page's dissertation is timely and important, with one reviewer calling it “a multi-method tour de force which masterfully integrates qualitative and quantitative research.”
Read more about Page and the award here.
UC Irvine has been redesignated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research for academic years 2015-2019 by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. “This acknowledges UCI’s prominence and growing impact, as well as expertise, in information assurance,” said Chancellor’s Professor of computer science Gene Tsudik, who heads the Secure Computing & Networking Center at the Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences. “It also highlights UCI’s ability to help the nation in educating and training IA specialists.” The program is intended to reduce vulnerabilities in — and threats to — the national information infrastructure by facilitating graduate education and research and training both researchers and practitioners. In addition, the redesignation allows UCI to compete for targeted grants from the National Science Foundation, the DHS and the NSA. For more information, visit the NSA National Centers of Academic Excellence website.
Informatics Ph.D. student Eugenia Gabrielova has received the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Fellowship. Established by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the fellowship funds and supports STEM undergraduate and graduate students’ academic endeavors, places them in DoD lab summer internships, and promises post-graduate employment upon degree completion. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.
Gabrielova will be joining the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) Systems Center Pacific, a Navy research and development lab in San Diego. Her research interests include virtual worlds, large-scale scientific data exploration, and self-managing software systems. She currently works under the guidance of professor Crista Lopes as part of the ICS Mondego Group, which focuses on research in large systems and data.
Ankita Raturi, a graduate student in informatics, is one of five UC Irvine students who have been awarded $2,500 fellowships to fund projects that focus on food issues. They’re among 54 University of California students receiving support from UC President Janet Napolitano’s Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program for efforts addressing such subjects as community gardens, food pantries, urban agriculture and food waste.
Raturi will work to develop a software program that models the environmental impact of agricultural systems. Called the Open Resource Tracker, the program will be designed to help understand how resources flow both within and between food systems. The software could theoretically be used with any resource-consuming system (e.g., farms, restaurants, factories). While the primary audience for this tool will be those directly involved in the environmental assessment of food systems —farmers, analysts and government workers — it will also have a consumer-facing interface.
The Global Food Initiative was launched in July to align the UC’s research, outreach and operations in a sustained effort to develop, demonstrate and export solutions — throughout California, the United States and the world — for food security, health and sustainability.
Theoretical computer science at ICS scores in the top 20 computer science departments nationally, according to a ranking list developed collaboratively by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Maryland.
The list, titled “Ranking of CS Departments based on the Number of Papers in Theoretical Computer Science,” was developed in response to a perceived lack of transparency in the criteria for U.S. News and World Report’s Best Graduate Schools for theoretical computer science list. Theoretical computer science includes a focus on logic and mathematics. The list considers the quality of computer science department faculty at respective schools and publication rates in major computer science conferences as key ranking measures. It is a part of a larger MIT and University of Maryland collaborative project, titled “BigDND: Big Dynamic Network Data.”
There are two ranking lists, each developed with the same dataset but using a different equation to organize the data. Depending on the list, computer science at UC Irvine comes in at 18th or 19th place, beating out Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale.
Chancellor's Professor Michael Goodrich attributes UC Irvine’s placement on the list to the work coming out of the Center for Algorithms and Theory of Computation, of which he is technical director and Chancellor’s Professor David Eppstein is director. The center’s research seeks to produce rigorously tested results about problems dealing with computers and their applications. In a recent example, professor Sandy Irani, in collaboration with professor Shahram Ghandeharizadeh at USC, has developed several novel algorithms for managing key-value caches for database management systems that greatly reduce processing overhead and enhance system throughput.
“I think this ranking data is an excellent recognition of impact the faculty in the center are having on the area,” Goodrich says.
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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded informatics and computer science professor Alfred Kobsa $666,000 to research user privacy decision support.
Even though consumers want to be in charge of their privacy and current privacy norms and research recommend transparency and user control, expecting all users to make all privacy decisions themselves turns out to be unrealistic. Kobsa’s proposal, “A User-Tailored Approach to Privacy Decision Support,” seeks to realistically empower users for privacy choices, through personalized default settings and through rationales for disclosure that best suit users’ predicted decision-making. Throughout his research, he will work with industry to deploy solutions for privacy decision support.
The research is funded by the NSF Social & Economic Sciences (SES) division, which “seeks to enhance our understanding of human, social and organizational behavior by building social science infrastructure, by developing social disciplinary and interdisciplinary research projects that advance knowledge in the social and economic sciences,” according to the website.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded informatics professor Bill Tomlinson $400,000 for his project “Fostering Non-Expert Creation of Sustainable Polycultures through Crowdsourced Data Synthesis.” Associate professor Donald Patterson and Assistant Professor of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois Sarah Taylor Lovell serve as co-principal investigators.
The project integrates research in computing and sustainability science with the goal of enabling a new approach to sustainable food security. By combining cyber-human systems and crowdsourcing research with the science of agroecology, the project seeks to develop an understanding of how online design tools may contribute to sustainability through enhanced local food production; to use the process of populating a plant species database as an instance of a class of problems amenable to intelligent crowdsourcing; and to pioneer new knowledge in crowdsourcing optimization.
According to the project abstract, “The work will contribute to long-term food security and offer lessons, concepts, methods, and software tools that may be transferable to other sustainability challenges.”
The award is part of the Cyber-Innovation for Sustainability Science and Engineering (CyberSEES) program at NSF, and is funded through the Division of Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF), which supports research and education projects that explore the foundations of computing and communication devices and their usage. According to the CCF website, “CCF-supported projects also investigate revolutionary computing models and technologies based on emerging scientific ideas and integrate research and education activities to prepare future generations of computer science and engineering workers.”