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NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award to Prof. Yinqian Zhang

The National Science Foundation has awarded CSE Assistant Professor Yinqian Zhang a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his research entitled Taming the Side-Channel Hazards in the Shielded Execution Paradigm. In conjunction with the award, Yinqian will receive $500,000 to support his research --- an investment that according to the NSF will help young scholars build a foundation for "a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research."  

Yinqian’s five-year project will explore novel ways to address side-channel threats in the emerging shielded execution paradigm, such as Intel’s Software Guard Extension (SGX). SGX is a hardware extension that provides software applications against compromised operating systems. However, recent studies have shown that SGX is vulnerable to side-channel threats, in which the system software measures the programs’ use of system resources or micro-architectural resources to infer their secrets. Yinqian’s research will develop novel principles and techniques to detect side-channel vulnerabilities in SGX software and thwart side-channel attacks at runtime. This research project will accelerate the broader acceptance of the shielded execution paradigm and the SGX technology. The research will also promote awareness of side-channel hazards to students, researchers, industry partners, and the general public, and hence motivate the adoption of the side-channel defense techniques in real-world applications.

Before joining the department in 2015, Yinqian received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on system security, cloud security, and side-channel security.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities aim to build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.