Thursday, September 17, 2015

Photos + Some Highlights of New England Security Day @UMassAmherst

This week is only the second week of the new academic year at UMass Amherst and has it been a busy start!

Today, after teaching my Transportation and Logistics class at the Isenberg School,  I was off to the College of Information and Computer Sciences (newly named) to take part in the New England Security Day (NESD 2015).  The program was fantastic with individual talks, a keynote by Jeremy Epstein of the National Science Foundation, and several panels. Plus, in the afternoon, there was a poster session.

The day began with welcoming remarks by Dr. Brian Levine of Computer Science, who has been spearheading cybersecurity initiatives at UMass, and by our Povost, Dr. Katherine Newman.
The keynote by Jeremy Epstein was simply fabulous.  It was not only very informative but also delivered with a great sense of humor. The importance of cybersecurity research as well as the challenges associated with multidisciplinary research were highlighted.

He also noted the importance of the NSF EAGER program, which I was delighted to hear about since my colleague, Professor Tilman Wolf, and I, with collaborators from the University of Kentucky recently received an EAGER grant. Epstein is a rotator at NSF, has had the position for 4 years, and is stepping down in January. His will be big shoes to fill.

There were 115 registrants for NESD and faculty and students came not only from many New England academic institutions (including Harvard, Dartmouth, WPI, Brown University, UConn, UMass Lowell, Northeastern) but also from New York (SUNY Stony Brook) and New Jersey  (Rutgers and Stevens Institute of Technology). This speaks to the timeliness and importance of cybersecurity research.

Below are photos of the speakers this morning and of the audience.
Lunch was provided and was delicious.

Dr. Susan Landau of WPI was the first speaker in the afternoon.
All the talks were great and it was nice to see female speakers as well as many female students. Several told me that they were so impressed by the number of females in attendance.

The refreshments were also perfect - Atkins cider donuts, fresh fruit, veggies, and cheese and crackers.
The poster session was also very interesting and a great opportunity for networking. I was very happy that my doctoral students, Shivani Shukla and Sara Saberi, presented posters and, speaking of serendipity, the poster that Shivani presented was based in part on a paper of ours just published today in the new book, Computation, Cryptography, and Network Security, edited by N.J. Daras and M.T. Rassias.  Dr. Rassias co-edited another book with John Nash, which will be John Nash's last book.

I enjoyed talking with 2 PhD students in Computer Science from Brown University, my alma mater.
One of the best aspects of today's event was not only the exchange of ideas but the conversations and the meeting of new colleagues. I can foresee new collaborations because of this event. It was also terrific to work over the summer with colleagues from Computer Science, the Isenberg School, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Math/Stats to make this event happen.
Kudos also to those in the last session, which still had a big audience because the topics were so interesting.
A huge thank you to Professor Brian Levine for bringing us all together for the terrific New England Security Day. Based on the response and interest, I suspect that such an event will be held not once but, possibly, twice a year.
Thanks to everyone for a very stimulating and energizing day! Special thanks to Michelle Roberts for the flawless logistics and smooth operation.