Danfeng Yao, associate professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. ’56 Faculty Fellowship in Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
Elizabeth and James Turner created the Turner Fellowships in 2011 with a $1 million gift to recognize faculty excellence. James Turner is a 1956 agricultural engineering alumnus who is the retired president and chief operating officer of General Dynamics. He is also a former rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, and in 2004 received Virginia Tech’s highest honor, the William H. Ruffner Medal.
Recipients hold the title of Turner Fellows for a period of five years.
Doug Bowman, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the Frank J. Maher Professorship in Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
Virginia Tech alumnus Bruce Vorhauer, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering mechanics in 1964, endowed the professorship in honor of Frank Maher, who received a master’s degree in civil engineering in 1937 and was a professor in Virginia Tech’s department of engineering mechanics, now called the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.
A member of the Virginia Tech faculty since 1999, Bowman is a world leader in research in 3-D interfaces for computers and virtual reality, a visualization technique sometimes referred to as “computer-simulated reality” whose uses in education and training, the arts, science, and urban design are now being explored.
Bowman has more than 120 peer-reviewed publications, the majority of which are in selective journals and conferences. His Google Scholar publication citation count is more than 7,700, verifying the impact of his work on his research field. He was lead author of the first textbook on 3D user interfaces, “3D User Interfaces: Theory and Practice,” published in 2005. Bowman has received more than $8.5 million in external funding for his research, with a personal share exceeding $3.1 million.
Every moment data is created. When a member of the Flint Water Study team tests and records results from a drop of water. When a student steps into Goodwin Hall, activating sensors to track usability and traffic patterns. But data, especially big data that has to be analyzed computationally, sometimes creates as many questions as it answers. Where does it all go? How do we store it? Who pays to store it? What kind of computer do we need to process the data? And how can we make sure that people years from now will still be able to access and reuse it?
University Libraries, in partnership with Virginia Tech researchers working with big data, is exploring these questions and more with the support of a $308,175 National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The project team includes: Zhiwu Xie, technology development librarian in the University Libraries; Tyler Walters, dean and professor, University Libraries; Edward Fox, professor of computer science in the College of Engineering; and Pablo Tarazaga, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering. Jiangping Chen, associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Sciences at the University of North Texas, will also help evaluate and review the project.
Smartphone security has become a topic of paramount importance in both academic and commercial communities. Currently, the most widely used processors in mobile devices are the ARM processors. ARM processors employ TrustZone, a hardware security extension, to protect sensitive code and data in a privilege and isolated execution environment. Although TrustZone design is effective against many malicious software-based attacks, smartphones may be lost or stolen. Once in the possession of unfriendly hands, sensitive information in a smartphone may be retrieved through physical memory disclosure attacks such as cold boot attack, in which an attacker can bypass all software protection and gain unrestricted access to the contents in the dynamic random access memory.
Ning Zhang, a CS Ph.D. candidate, under the supervision of Prof. Wenjing Lou, presented his work on how to protect smartphones against physical-level memory disclosure attacks in a paper at the 37th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, the top security conference in the field. In the paper, Zhang, Lou and their co-authors presented a novel system that combines hardware-assisted security protection of TrustZone and unique cache features in ARM. The system offers an isolated execution environment that can protect sensitive tasks against both malicious software and hardware memory disclosure attack. The system uses the on-chip cache as the program execution environment and applies cryptography to protect the sensitive program context that is stored in the physical memory. Through experimentation on a prototype, the new system was found to be effective and is capable of providing unprecedented protection with little performance impact.
Since 1980, the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy has been the premier forum for presenting developments in computer security and electronic privacy, and for bringing together researchers and practitioners in the field. The 2016 Symposium marks the 37th annual meeting of this flagship conference. Among over 400 submissions, only 55 papers were accepted for presentation at this year’s symposium.
PeerJ is an award-winning, leading peer-reviewed open access scholarly journal for biological and medical sciences. PeerJ is a great option for other Virginia Tech researchers, too, especially considering all university faculty, staff, and students can now publish at no cost if their submission passes peer review. Free open access publishing is also available to Virginia Tech researchers in PeerJ’s counterparts, PeerJ Computer Science and PeerJ Preprints.
Edward Fox, a professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, was invited to be one of the editors on the board of PeerJ Computer Science. When research in his area of expertise is awaiting review, he receives a notification. He says the process is quick, and PeerJ is transparent about who is editing the work. Studies show there are very few observable differences between research publications that have appeared in an open access journals versus comparable works that appear in subscription journals. And several studies indicate a citation advantage for open access articles. “This suggests that there’s actually not a whole lot of difference between things that appear in a journal that has charges and considerable expense associated versus things that appear in an open literature repository,” Fox said. “One would expect that PeerJ, with even more editorial involvement than if something was just in a repository, would release quite comparable works to what appear in very expensive journals.”
The Department sends its thanks and best wishes to Dr. Sean Arthur! Although Sean transitioned to emeritus status in 2011, he has continued to teach a section of CS 3304, Comparative Languages, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 8:00 a.m. Most students report that this class has been the highlight of their day (“Isn’t that right, class?!”). But now Sean claims there are just too many fish that need catching, so after more than 30 years as part of the Computer Science Department, he offered his last lecture on Tuesday, May 3. Department Head Cal Ribbens stopped by to congratulate Sean on his many years of service, and to offer the classic Blacksburg token of appreciation, Carol Lee donuts.
At the nineteenth annual Virginia Tech College of Engineering faculty reception, awards were presented to engineering professors for teaching innovation, research, service, and outreach for 2016.
T. M. Murali of computer science is a recipient of one of the College of Engineering’s research in excellence awards. T. M. ’s overall research goal is founded in computational systems biology – to build phenomenological and predictive models of interaction networks that govern living cells functionality. Most recently, with colleagues, T. M. has developed PathLinker, a network based algorithm that reconstructs signaling pathways. He has been published in top journals such as Bionformatics and Molecular Biology of the Cell. T.M. co-directs the ICTAS Center for Systems Biology of Engineered Tissues and under his leadership the center’s faculty have received grants exceeding $11 million. He is also the associate program director of the Computational Tissue Engineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Education program – a program that was renewed last year based on student accomplishments and overall research productivity.
Chang-Tien Lu of computer science is a College of Engineering faculty fellow recipient, which carries an annual $5,000 account for the next three fiscal years to support his research. He is the Associate Director of the Discovery Analytics Center. In 2015 Chang-Tien was one of 49 researchers in the world to be named Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery. His research on data management is to fulfill emerging requirements for storing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data. His ongoing projects range from explorations of fundamental access and retrieval issues to practical applications that deal with data analysis and knowledge discovery tasks. These projects have led to the publication of numerous high-quality research papers and the production of innovative prototype systems. They are also helping professionals in many fields to react quickly and make effective decisions in time-sensitive applications. His major contributions include efficient mining algorithms and sophisticated storage structures that can be scaled up to process large scale data, as well as the formalization of spatial patterns and trends. Chang-Tien has published over 112 articles, which have been featured in top rated journals and conference proceedings. According to the Google scholar index, his papers have been cited 2,630 times and have an h-index of 25. He has received 33 grants — 23 he serves as the P.I. for, with funding over $33 million and his share, almost $4 million. Chang-Tien has graduated 6 PhD students and 31 masters’ students and currently supervising 13 PhD students.
One of the college’s certificate of teaching award goes to Tom Martin of electrical and computer engineering. Tom also has courtesy appointments in the School of Architecture and Design and the Department of Computer Science. He is also the associate director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the co-director of the E-textiles Lab. His research and teaching interests include wearable computing, electronic textiles, and interdisciplinary design teams for pervasive computing. In 2006 he was selected for the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers for his research in e-textile-based wearable computing. Over the past few years Tom’s research has lead to the development of the InZone Alert Vest that includes radio sensors that construction workers can wear on or inside vests with connected vehicle technology that allows cars to “talk” to one another, roadside infrastructure, and personal electronics such as mobile phones.
Danfeng (Daphne) Yao’s paper was recently accepted to present at the IEEE DSN conference. The 46th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN) will take place in Toulouse, France on June, 2016.
The work of Professor Yao, in collaboration with Kui Xu, Ke Tian and Barbara Ryder, presents a security monitoring system for ensuring the normal executions of complex programs and providing early detection of attacks. Their solution is based on hidden Markov model (HMM) and context-sensitive program analysis. This program-aware HMM model is new. It enables them to achieve unprecedented ultra-low false alarm rates in probabilistic program anomaly detection. Experiments show that their system has up to two orders of magnitude improvement of accuracy over state-of-the-art techniques on average. This project is supported by the Office of Naval Research.
Danfeng (Daphne) Yao is an associate professor and L-3 Faculty Fellow in the Department of Computer Science. The first author Kui Xu is a Ph.D. graduate from Dr. Yao’s group and is currently a security engineer at Amazon, Inc. Ke Tian is a third year Ph.D. student in Yao’s group. Ke Tian will intern at Qualcomm this summer researching on mobile malware detection. Barbara Ryder is the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and former CS department head.