May 14, 2007
Priya Narasimhan, Associate Professor of ECE, and Dawn Song, Assistant Professor of ECE and CS, were awarded Sloan Research Fellowships in computer science. The purpose of the award is "to stimulate fundamental research by early-career scientists and scholars of outstanding promise," according to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation website. The two-year, $45,000 funding may be used for equipment, technical assistance, professional travel, or trainee support.
Narasimhan's research focuses on areas that aim to break new ground in dependability, including supporting proactively fault-tolerant applications, providing for root-cause analysis ("fingerpointing"), and problem determination in distributed systems. She also studies handling nondeterministic fault-tolerant applications through compiler techniques, supporting online upgrades to distributed software systems, and using dependable middleware for sensor networks.
Additionally, Narasimhan is passionately involved in applying new developments in technology to serve the community. She leads a project which adapts embedded assistive technologies to help the visually impaired find transportation and shop for groceries. Her end users have input in the design process, so that the resulting systems are optimized to improve their quality of life.
Song's primary research centers on the juncture of software analysis and network security, for example in automated defense against network worms. She also conducts research in cryptography, which has recently resulted in new secure multiparty protocols for computing set operations. This capability is an enabler for a range of applications-including many in homeland security-in which sets must be operated on in conjunction but privately, so that as little information about the sets is revealed as possible.
Her work impacts both academia and industry: Song designed a new course in secure software systems at Carnegie Mellon and her industrial collaborations include plans with Symantec, Microsoft, and Cisco to apply her research techniques to their systems and products to enable their hosts and networks to benefit from the technology.
Sloan Research Fellows are chosen based on their "outstanding promise of making fundamental contributions to new knowledge." This year, the selection committee reviewed more than 500 nominations and selected 118 winners in the fields of chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics, neuroscience, and physics. Only 16 awards were presented in the computer science category. Jeanette Wing, Department Head and President's Professor of CS; Professor of ECE, is a member of the computer science panel.
Recipients of the award must have completed their Ph.D. no more than six years from the time of their nomination and are free to pursue independent research projects of their choice. Fellows are recommended by department heads or other senior researchers. The Sloan Research Fellowships were established in 1955; 35 former fellows have become Nobel Prize winners.
Two other Carnegie Mellon faculty members won Sloan Research Fellowships this year: Jennifer Mankoff, Assistant Professor, Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII), whose award was also in the computer science category, and Mohammad Islam, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, who won in physics.
Additional ECE-affiliated faculty who have been selected for the honor in past years include Adrian Perrig, Anastassia Ailamaki, Babak Falsafi, Todd Mowry, and Hui Zhang.