Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham is the inaugural recipient of the prestigious 2017 CODASPY Research Award, presented at the Association of Computing Machinery’s Conference on Data and Applications Security and Privacy (ACM CODASPY) in Scottsdale, Arizona on March 23, 2017. This award represents a high honor that is given to a researcher working in Data and Applications Security and Privacy (DASPY) who has made “Innovative and Lasting Research Contributions” to the field. Thuraisingham received this award for her research contributions to DASPY spanning over three decades at Honeywell, MITRE, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and The University of Texas at Dallas. Specifically, the citation for her award reads as follows: “Innovative and Lasting Research Contributions, sustained for 32 years, from Multilevel Secure Databases (1980s), to the Inference Problem (1990s), to Assured Information Sharing (2000s), and to Secure Data Management on the Cloud (2010s).”
Throughout her career, Thuraisingham has made major breakthroughs in multiple areas of DASPY. She was a principal designer of Lock Data Views, one of the two premier high assurance multi-level secure database systems developed in the mid-1980s while she was at Honeywell. Then, together with researchers at the University of Minnesota, she was the first to introduce security into object systems in the late 1980s. She also pioneered techniques to handle the inference problem in database security and was the first, in the early 1990’s while at MITRE, to prove that the inference problem was unsolvable. This work was commended by the National Security Agency at the time as a significant development in database security. In addition, in the early-to-mid 1990’s, together with her team at MITRE, she was the first to connect database systems securely across multiple sites in the USA. In the mid-to-late 1990’s together with researchers at the University of Virginia, she was the first to integrate security with real-time systems.
She continued to make pioneering contributions to the field this century and was the first to introduce security for the semantic web in the early 2000’s at the US-Europe meeting in Sophia Antipolis, France. At the same time, while at NSF, she wrote a seminal paper on data privacy, data mining, and civil liberties in the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (ACM SIGKDD) that provided directions for the field for the next decade. Since the mid-2000’s, together with her team at UT Dallas, she designed techniques for sharing information securely in a cloud and also developed novel data mining tools for malware detection as well as securing social media systems. Not only has she published papers in top tier journals and conferences, her research has also transferred to commercial secure database system products (e.g., multi-level relational data model) as well as to operational systems for the Department of Defense (e.g., secure real-time systems to programs such as Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS)).
Thuraisingham’s CODASPY Research Award adds to her numerous other prestigious awards for research and leadership relating to the integration of cyber security and data science, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society’s 1997 Technical Achievement Award, Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (ACM SIGSAC) 2010 Outstanding Contributions Award, and the Society for Design and Process Science (SDPS) 2012 Transformative Achievement Gold Medal. In addition, she has been a Fellow of IEEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) since 2003. She was also the first computer scientist to receive the Jonsson School Senior Faculty Research Award in 2016. She has been named one of the five leading women shaping the future of cyber security by Careersincybersecurity.com in November 2016.
Thuraisingham says that after working in the field for the past 32 years she is as motivated as ever to continue with her research and make significant research contributions. She feels as honored to have received the CODASPY Research Award in 2017 as she was when she received her first award, the IEEE Computer Society’s Technical Achievement Award in 1997. She is very thankful for the opportunities she has been presented with at Honeywell, MITRE, NSF, and UT Dallas, as well as to the teams she has worked with over the years in DASPY. More importantly, she is very grateful to the United States Government for sponsoring her research for over three decades. She dedicates this award to her mentor the late Prof CV Ramamoorthy.
ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,100 bachelor’s-degree students, more than 1,000 MS master’s students, 150 PhD students, and 86 faculty members, as of Fall 2016. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.