Noteworthy achievements

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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Gary Olson, 2 ICS Alums receive SIGCHI honors

photo: Gary Olson


Informatics professor Gary Olson has received a Lifetime Service Award from the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer–Human Interaction (SIGCHI), as part of the group’s annual effort to recognize and honor leaders and shapers within the field of human-computer interaction.

According to the award website, recipients of the Lifetime Service Award are individuals who have contributed to the growth and success of SIGCHI in a variety of capacities over a number of years. Olson has worked in the human-computer interaction (HCI) field since 1983, when he and colleagues Judy Olson (a fellow informatics professor), Paul Green and Marilyn Mantei taught the first graduate course on the subject at the University of Michigan.

Olson’s contribution to HCI has largely revolved around the concept of distance. From the mid-1980s he and Judy Olson began researching the role technology plays in collaboration. The pair published their highly cited paper, “Distance Matters,” on the subject in 2000 and later authored “Working Together Apart.” Olson has long played an active role in SIGCHI, co-chairing and chairing numerous conferences, as well as award and steering committees. SIGCHI previously elected Olson to the CHI academy and, along with Judy Olson, awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

In addition to Olson, two ICS alumni were also honored in this year’s round of awards. Leysia Palen, professor and founding chair of the newly established Department of Information Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, was elected to the CHI academy. She earned her Ph.D. in information and computer science in 1998. Daniel Russell, a senior research scientist at Google, was also elected to the CHI academy. He earned his B.S. in information and computer science in 1977 and has been recognized as a UC Irvine Lauds & Laurels Distinguished Alumnus.


Kobsa receives Mercator Fellowship

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Informatics professor Alfred Kobsa has received a Mercator Fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the largest research funding organization in Germany. The Mercator fellowship will enable Kobsa—whose research focuses on the areas of user modeling and personalized systems, privacy, support for personal health maintenance, and information visualization—to participate in “intensive, long-term project-based collaboration between researchers from both domestic and foreign institutions,” according to the DFG. Throughout the duration of the fellowship, Kobsa will work both on-site at a German institution and continue his project collaboration here in Irvine. “Foreign Mercator Fellowship holders are awarded the title of Mercator Fellows in recognition of their dedication,” the DFG notes.

As the largest independent research funding organization in Germany, the DFG “promotes the advancement of science and the humanities by funding research projects, research [centers] and networks, and facilitating cooperation among researchers,” according to its website. It also joins major international funding counterparts like the National Science Foundation and the Royal Society as a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU).


FALL 2015

Franz named 2016 IEEE Fellow

photo: Michael Franz


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has named Computer Science Professor Michael Franz a 2016 IEEE Fellow. Franz is being recognized by IEEE for his contributions to just-in-time compilation as well as his contributions to computer security through compiler-generated software diversity.

The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. It is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. The total number of fellows selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of 1 percent of the total voting membership. “It is a great achievement receiving recognition from one's peers and being included among such a distinguished group of IEEE members," says Franz.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity with 400,000 members in 160 countries. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world’s literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards.


Tsudik elected to The Academy of Europe

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor's Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik has been elected a member of The Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea), the organization dedicated to the “advancement and propagation of excellence in scholarship in the humanities, law, the economic, social, and political sciences, mathematics, medicine, and all branches of natural and technological sciences anywhere in the world for the public benefit and for the advancement of the education of the public of all ages in the aforesaid subjects in Europe,” according to the organization’s website.

Tsudik was elected to the computational and information science-focused section—dubbed the Informatics section—of the academy. Membership is by invitation only, with invitations made only after a peer group nomination and rigorous scrutiny of the eminence and scholarship of the potential member. Tsudik is the only United States-based member elected to the Informatics section in 2015, joining a total of 11 U.S. members in the 237 member total section.

The Academy of Europe endeavors to encourage the highest possible standards in scholarship, identifying topics of trans-European importance to science and scholarship, as well as making recommendations to national governments and international agencies concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe. It counts among its members some of the foremost scholars in the world. Tsudik joins in the Informatics section eminent U.S.-based scholars like Victor Vianu, computer scientist and editor-in-chief of the Journal of the ACM, and Mihalis Yannakakis, professor of computer science at Columbia University and winner of the 2015 Donald E. Knuth prize—awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science.


NSA grants Tsudik $286K for cybersecurity research

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor's Professor of computer science Gene Tsudik has received a $286,000 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) for his project “ERADS: Efficient Remote Attestation of Dynamic Swarms.”

As embedded devices—including automotive sensors or controllers, drones, household appliances, and factory automation components—proliferate into many aspects of everyday life, they also become targets for attacks. This project aims to develop techniques for detecting and mitigating malware infestations of networks consisting of a myriad of such embedded devices.

The NSA designates UC Irvine as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE), with a focus in Information Assurance Research. Institutions with CAE designations promote higher education in information assurance—the management of risks related to the use, processing, storage, and transmission of data—and cyber defense, while helping to meet the need to reduce vulnerabilities in the Nation’s networks. The grant comes out of the CAE cybersecurity research program.


Informatics Ph.D. student to present at ACM-DEV 2015

photo: Ankita Raturi


Informatics Ph.D. student Ankita Raturi received an ACM Women in Computing (ACM-W) scholarship to attend the ACM Symposium on Computing for Development (ACM DEV), held at the Queen Mary University of London in December. ACM-W provides scholarships to enable women in computer science to attend research conferences around the world.

At ACM DEV, Raturi will present on a paper she co-authored with current and former UC Irvine faculty Bill Tomlinson, Bonnie Nardi, Donald J. Patterson, Debra Richardson, Jean-Daniel Saphores and Dan Stokols. The paper, “Toward Alternative Decentralized Infrastructures,” looks at how we can build interfaces between infrastructures to improve robustness, reliability and resilience. “Enabling communities to transition to a more resilient configuration of infrastructures is crucial for establishing a distributed portfolio of processes and systems by which human needs may be met,” Raturi says.

This will be Raturi’s first time at the conference, “an ideal venue for this work to be presented,” Raturi says. The conference is a platform for “original and innovative work on the applications, technologies, architectures and protocols for computing in developing regions,” according to the ACM DEV website.

“Having the opportunity to present my work, engage with the community and learn from leading researchers in my field is a major part of my professional growth," Raturi says. "Discussing our work with experts who have been working on computing for development will be incredibly valuable.”


Ziv collaborates in groundbreaking NSF-funded privacy research

photo: Hadar Ziv


Informatics lecturer Hadar Ziv will be a research collaborator in a groundbreaking NSF-funded project titled “Privacy Compliance by Design: Ideation Techniques to Facilitate System Design Compliant with Privacy Laws and Regulations.”

The project attempts to bring privacy protection to the forefront of software developer’s minds in the wake of the explosion of big data. “Software professionals typically have no formal training or education on sociotechnical aspects of privacy. As a result, addressing privacy issues raised by a system is frequently an afterthought and/or a matter of compliance-check during the late phases of the system development lifecycle,” the project’s abstract explains. To tackle this challenge, the project’s research team will develop “privacy ideation cards” based on relevant U.S. laws and regulations, which “can potentially transform how privacy-relevant aspects are handled in real-world software solutions built by industry and inform how students are taught these issues in undergraduate software curricula.” The team includes Principal Investigator Sameer Patil from New York University, who received a $175,000 Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) for the project, Ziv, Janice Tsai of Microsoft and Jonathan Fox of Intel.

In addition to the deck of privacy ideation cards, the project will promote privacy by design, making privacy protection a built-in framework for all software development. Ziv will connect the research team with students in his senior Capstone Informatics project course, “as a test-bed for ideas and presentations related to privacy,” Ziv says. “Their engagement will affect change in the students' projects. I will likely participate in collecting and analyzing data about those changes.”


Professor Tsudik Keynoting Two Conferences in November

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik is delivering two keynote addresses on “Secure and Private Proximity-Based Discovery of Common Factors in Social Networks” at conferences in November. First, on November 4, he will be speaking at the 9th International Conference on Network and System Security in New York City, before traveling to Sydney, Australia to speak at the 25th International Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference on November 20.


Study reveals ICS degree-friendly jobs have the best work-life balance

photo: Glassdoor logo

Careers in data science, user experience design, web development and software engineering promote excellent work-life balance, according to a survey from Glassdoor, a job rankings website.

Glassdoor notes that, across the board, employee satisfaction with work-life balance has been declining in the past few years, but there are a number of careers that won’t leave employees working 24/7—many of these careers bolstered by skills learned at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS).

Glassdoor analyzed feedback from around 60,000 company reviews to determine the top 25 careers where employees report balance between their personal lives and the workplace. Among the 25, 10 were careers in tech, including data scientist (#1), user experience (UX) designer (#7), web developer (#10), instructional designer (#14), software quality assurance (QA) engineer (#16), web designer (#17), data analyst (#20), solutions engineer (#22), software developer (#24), and front-end developer (#25).

ICS is well-placed to foster future careers in tech. As the only school focused on computer and information sciences in the University of California system, ICS offers undergraduate programs of study in business information management, computer game science, computer science, computer science and engineering, informatics, and software engineering. The newly established data science major is unique at the undergraduate level, equipping budding data scientists—Glassdoor’s career with the highest work-life balance—with the necessary combined skills in computing and statistics. The major is part of UC Irvine’s Data Science Initiative, a coordinated effort to bring together researchers and students across campus involved in various aspects of data science.

At the graduate level, students at ICS can pursue deeper educational opportunities in computer science, informatics, embedded systems, networked systems, software engineering, and statistics.


Tsudik part of panel at UCI-Nossaman Cybersecurity Symposium

photo: Gene Tsudik


Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik took part in a panel at the 2015 UCI-Nossaman Cybersecurity Symposium at the City Club Los Angeles on Oct. 12. The symposium, titled “Cybersecurity, Data Breach and Privacy: A Dialogue on the Rising Risks and Evolving Legal Landscape,” was a joint effort by the UC Irvine School of Law and Nossaman LLP, a nationwide law firm that has made privacy and security one of its focus areas. The emphasis of the panel that Tsudik spoke on was “Not If, But When — Hack Offensives, Investigating Breaches, and Closing the Gaps on Data Leaks.”


Postdoctoral scholar Per Larsen recognized as “DARPA Riser”

photo: Per Larsen

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has recognized assistant project scientist in computer science Per Larsen as a “DARPA Riser.” The early-career honor is conferred to “up-and-coming standouts in their fields, capable of discovering and leveraging innovative opportunities for technological surprise—the heart of DARPA’s national security mission,” DARPA says.

Larsen, along with 54 other honorees from around the country, attended “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum,” in September with special guest U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (the gentleman on the left in the photo). The forum, which drew more than 1,200 participants from around the world, explored future technologies “on their potential to radically change how we live and work, and on the opportunities and challenges these technologies will raise within the broadly defined domain of national security,” according to the event website. Larsen was among a small subset of honorees who were treated to lunch with the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

“DARPA organized Wait, What? to bring together forward-looking thinkers across a host of fields that are abundant with possibilities,” DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar said in the event press release. “In particular, our DARPA Rising effort aimed to identify and inspire some of the nation’s emerging leaders in research and technology—so we at DARPA can learn from them, and to make them aware of opportunities to apply their expertise in the important domain of national security.”

Larsen works as a postdoctoral scholar with Computer Science Professor Michael Franz. His research interests include information security, including software diversity and exploits and mitigations; compilers, including profiling, randomization and control-flow integrity; and systems software, including interpreters and virtual machines.


Van der Hoek to speak at SCSIM Fall Event

photo: André van der Hoek

van der Hoek

Department of Informatics Chair André van der Hoek will be speaking at the Southern California Society for Information Management (SCSIM) Fall Event: “The Southern California Disruptors—How Startups and the New Innovation Culture in Southern California are affecting IT” on Sept. 30 at the Long Beach Marriott. As the head of the UCI Software Design and Collaboration Lab, van der Hoek is part of a three-person panel that will relate their applicable experiences crucial to participating in the new business environment developing around us.



Franz amasses $3.9 million in research funding

photo: Michael Franz


This year alone, Computer Science Professor Michael Franz has accumulated over $3.9 million in research funding from prestigious organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), Qualcomm, Oracle and Mozilla. This follows his trend of more than $1 million per year on average in research expenditures.

Franz currently runs two projects funded by DARPA’s Cyber Fault-Tolerant Attack Recovery (CFAR) Program, for which he received nearly $2 million and roughly $700,000 in May, respectively. The CFAR Program aims to “produce revolutionary breakthroughs in defensive cyber techniques that can be deployed to protect existing and planned software systems in both military and civilian contexts without requiring changes to the concept of operations of these systems,” according to a statement by program manager John Everett.

Franz also runs a project funded by DARPA’s Vetting Commodity IT Software and Firmware Program (VET), which addresses “the threat of hidden malicious functionality in COTS (Commercial Off-the-Shelf) IT devices ... including mobile phones, printers, computer workstations and many other everyday items,” according to a statement by program manager Timothy Fraser. He received nearly $65,000 for this project.

Finally, in July, Franz received nearly $620,000 from the NSF for a collaborative project titled “ENCORE—ENhanced program protection through COmpiler-REwriter cooperation.” According to the abstract, the project will produce “a prototype implementation consisting of a producer-side metadata derivation engine, and a consumer-side binary rewriting engine using this metadata to safely perform binary code manipulation.” In the past year, Franz has also received unrestricted gifts from Qualcomm, Oracle and Mozilla totaling $263,000.


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