Virginia Tech alumnus to speak about the new age of blockchain technology March 20

Virginia Tech computer science alumnus Dan Larimer ’03 is at the epicenter of the development of blockchain technology as a force for decentralizing transactions in a digital world with seemingly endless applications. Larimer, the chief technical officer of, has shepherded blockchains’ adoption across industries and leads efforts that seek to develop high performance smart contracts.

Larimer will lead a discussion on Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus March 20 in Torgersen Hall room 2150 at 7 p.m. Free pizza and beverages will be provided. The event is hosted by the student-run Virginia Tech chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery.

Larimer will share his experiences as a serial entrepreneur at the forefront of cultural change and emerging technologies, specifically blockchain technology, with reference to its scalability and engineering challenges and the importance of the technology to drive innovation in a multitude of fields.
A pioneer of blockchain technology, Larimer has been working in the blockchain space for years and is the creator of EOS.IO, a blockchain technology that rivals the scale and scope of all prior blockchains.

Previously Larimer focused on developing innovative technologies ranging from virtual reality simulators to second-generation crypto currencies, most notably BitShares. He is a specialist in software development and the inventor of the widely adopted “Proof of Stake” and “Decentralized Autonomous Corporations” concepts.

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Computer science graduate lives motto of Ut Prosim every day in Haiti

In Haiti, the workday starts early, at 4 a.m.

The sun won’t be fully out for several more hours when Mario Calixte, an alumnus of Virginia Tech and member of the Hokie Nation,
heads to his day job in the bustle of motorbikes, pedestrians, and burros that jockey for space in the morning traffic in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Calixte, who has a bachelor’s degree from the College of Engineering in computer science and a master’s in instructional design and technology from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, works at the Ecole Supérieure d’Infotronique d’Haïti, where he advises students and develops curriculums for those who attend the country’s flagship university.

But that’s just one of his jobs.

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Matthew Hicks named assistant professor in Department of Computer Science

Matthew Hicks has been appointed as an assistant professor of computer science in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. He is one of 27 new faculty members hired by the college for the 2017-18 academic year.

Hicks’ research seeks to address challenges in developing improved security of low-level hardware code, hardware devices for security systems, battery-less devices, and approximate computing techniques used in studying machine energy efficiency. Findings of his lab have been used by military contractors, hardware security startups, and have inspired others in the fields of security and academia to devise code analysis techniques aimed at uncovering malicious hardware.

Prior to coming to Virginia Tech, Hicks was a member of the technical staff at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, where he conducted research in a hardware security research group that served as the intersection between academia and the defense industry. Before his appointment at the Lincoln Laboratory, Hicks was a lecturer at the University of Michigan, where he taught courses on security and programming.

In 2016, Hicks won the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy Distinguished Paper Award and was a finalist in the Pwnie Awards for Most Innovative Research.

Hicks earned a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of Central Florida in 2006, a master’s in 2008, and a doctorate in 2013; both in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Written by Amy Loeffler

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Daphne Yao presides over first Cyber(W) workshop

Associate Professor of Computer Science Daphne Yao and her colleague Professor Elisa Bertino from Purdue presided over the first Cyber(W) workshop in Dallas, Texas on Oct. 30.

The workshop was inspired by the significant gender imbalance in all security conferences, in terms of the number of publishing authors, PC members, organizers, and attendees. What causes this gender imbalance remains unclear. However, multiple research studies have shown that a diverse group is more creative, diligent, and productive than a homogeneous group. In order to maintain a sustainable and creative workforce, substantial efforts need to be made by our security community to broaden the participation from all underrepresented groups in cyber security research conferences.

 The workshop co-located with the ACM CCS, one of the top security conferences in the world.

The workshop received generous sponsorships from CRA-W, ACM SIGSAC, the Virginia Tech Department of Computer Science and Stack Center, MIT Lincoln Laboratories, and the University of Texas, Dallas.

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ACM recognizes Professor of Computer Science Kirk Cameron as 2017 Distinguished Member

The ACM Distinguished Member program, initiated in 2006, recognizes those members with at least 15 years of professional experience who have made significant accomplishments or achieved a significant impact on the computing field. This year Professor of Computer Science Kirk Cameron was recognized as a 2017 Distinguished Member in the category of Contributions to Computing.

Read more about the recognition and see other honorees here.

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Department of Computer Science convenes advisory board

The Department of Computer Science has formed an advisory board to serve as stewards of the department’s continued growth in academia, advancement, and outreach.  The membership includes a diverse cross-section of alumni, several of whom have been engaged with the department for many years, and represent myriad industries from banking to gaming. An inaugural meeting of the Department of Computer Science’s newly formed advisory board occurred Oct. 20.

“We enjoyed welcoming members of the advisory board to the Blacksburg campus for our inaugural fall meeting,” said department head and Professor Cal Ribbens.  “Their advice on strategic planning and advancement will be invaluable as we continue to grow as a department and respond to new challenges and opportunities.”

Current advisory board members are:

Michael Austin is director of Corporate Strategy at Eastman.  He has a bachelor’s in computer science from Virginia Tech

Jeremy Barksdale is a user experience researcher at Microsoft. Barksdale has a doctorate in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Jamika Burge is the head of Research Curriculum and Outreach at Capital One. She has a doctorate in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Ron Forbes is an event producer at Riot Games.  Forbes has a bachelor’s in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Stephen Gillote is founder and CEO of Reinventing Geospatial Inc. (RGi).  He has a bachelor’s in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Greg Lavender is managing director and global head of Technology Architecture and Engineering in the Office of the CTO at Citigroup. He has a doctorate in computer science from Virginia Tech.

James E. Miller is CEO of Strategic Resources International. Miller has a bachelor’s in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Barbara Ryder is an emerita faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech where she held the J. Byron Maupin Professorship in Engineering and served as department head from 2008-2015.

Iccha Sethi is a senior software developer at Atlassian.  Sethi has a master’s in computer science from Virginia Tech.

Madhan Subhas is an entrepreneur and software engineering executive working on a new startup after successful exit of a previous startup. Subhas has an MS in CS from Virginia Tech.

Laurian Vega is a user experience and systems engineer at Next Century Corporation.  Vega has a doctorate in computer science from Virginia Tech.

J.D. Young retired from Oracle and continues working as an entrepreneur and investor.  Young has a bachelor’s in computer science from Virginia Tech.








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Tanushree Mitra appointed assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science

Tanushree Mitra has been appointed assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is one of 27 new faculty members hired by the college for the 2017-18 academic year.

Mitra’s research combines computer science and sociology, more popularly known as computational social science. Blending concepts from both these fields, she uncovers insights about social life and  human behavior online using large datasets.

“What excites me most about computer science is the interaction between computer systems and their human users and the plethora of new applications and opportunities that this can enable,” said Mitra.

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Virginia Tech researcher brings interactive games to museums

Museums have a captive audience in visitors who typically meander through static exhibits depicting various scenes of cultural and natural history. But in the new digital age, the museum audience is increasingly digitally savvy and accustomed to learning through interactive games and other forms of digital media.

A Virginia Tech researcher is helping to bridge the digital gaps that visitors experience in museums by studying virtual spaces that could serve to make institutions more interactive, social, and gamelike — and hopefully more appealing — to 21st century audiences.

Panagiotis Apostolellis, an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Science in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, and a team of researchers assessed the ability of museums to provide young visitors with an enjoyable and augmented learning experience by harnessing the educational value of virtual environments and computer games for a large audience.

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Smartwatch app could inspire more frequent physical activity, Virginia Tech study finds

An interdisciplinary study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech suggests the secret to obtaining your summertime fitness goals might not be the amount of weight you’re bench pressing or how many miles you run, but generating friendly competition to keep you one step ahead of your fitness buddies.

The concept of friendly competition in group exercise being explored by the researchers uses a smartwatch app that could help people in a group exercise program get —and stay — more active.

At the heart of the group exercise research is a Fitbit-like smartwatch and its software developed by Andrey Esakia, a Ph.D. candidate in Virginia Tech’s Department of Computer Science who worked on the project to study the effects of technology in group physical activity. The work is supported by a multidisciplinary seed grant from Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

Esakia collaborated with the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences to incorporate the hardware and software of the watch into an existing initiative, FitEx, from the Physical Activity Leadership Team of Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Physical Activity Research and Community Implementation Laboratory. FitEx is an eight-week physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption program delivered in community settings.


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Overlap in computer modeling holds key to next-generation processing, Virginia Tech researchers find

Exascale computing — the ability to perform calculations at 1 billion billion per second — is what researchers are striving to push processors to do in the next decade. That’s 1,000 times faster than the first petascale computer that came into existence in 2008.

Achieving efficiency will be paramount to building high-performance parallel computing systems if applications are to run in environments of enormous scale and also limited power.

A team of researchers in the Department of Computer Science in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering discovered a key to what could keep supercomputing on the road to the ever-faster processing times needed to achieve exascale computing — and what policymakers say is necessary to keep the United States competitive in industries from everything to cybersecurity to ecommerce.

“Parallel computing is everywhere when you think about it,”said Bo Li, computer science Ph.D. candidate and first author on the paper being presented about the team’s research this month. “From making Hollywood movies to managing cybersecurity threats to contributing to milestones in life science research, making strides in processing times is a priority to get to the next generation of supercomputing.”

Li will present the team’s research on June 29 at the Association for Computing Machinery’s 26th International Symposium on High Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing in Washington, D.C. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.


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