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Feb 21 2013

NYIT Professor Awarded Grant to Research Mobile Device and Wireless Network Security

 Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong

New York, N.Y. (February 21, 2013) - Ziqian (Cecilia) Dong, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), has received a prestigious three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to establish a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) site at NYIT to conduct research on the security of mobile devices and wireless networks. The award, the first NSF REU grant that NYIT has received, totals approximately $360,000 and applies to the three-year period of April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2016. 

The new REU Site at NYIT provides the opportunity for 10 motivated and talented undergraduate students to collaborate with NYIT faculty and graduate students in researching methods to securing smartphones and their networks using both hardware and software approaches. Undergraduates will gain hands-on research experiences in simulating malware spread in smartphones; implementing authentication schemes for the devices; studying topology control of wireless networks to enable the transmission of data; geolocating, or identifying the geographic location  of smartphones; detecting physical attacks on a network of smartphones; and developing privacy-protected medical sensing methods to enable smartphones and other mobile devices to collect medical information such as heart rate, body temperature, and other vital signs while preserving privacy.

“Ultimately, we hope to raise public awareness about the  security of mobile devices, motivate students to pursue cyber security research careers in either academia or industry, and gain better understanding of how to protect information on mobile devices,” said Dong, who is the principal investigator. “The research will focus on understanding the vulnerability of these devices and look for solutions.”  

The project will provide hands-on research experiences for undergraduate students in the high-demand science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. The NYIT project team is committed to recruiting women and underrepresented minorities among the students selected for these research opportunities, and to retaining them in academic and professional capacities related to STEM. The project will contribute to creating a partnership and support network for women engineers to engage in STEM research while fostering K-12 outreach activities. Undergraduate student participants recruited from all over the United States will collaborate with NYIT faculty, graduate students, and fellow undergraduates in research teams comprised of individuals of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Another objective is to provide participants with professional development opportunities from academia, industry, and government agencies. To date, organizations including AT&T Security Research Center, Rutgers University Winlab, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will collaborate with NYIT to offer activities such as interactive dialogue, seminars from security research experts, and site visits to academic, government and industry research labs in the New York metropolitan region.

Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, said, “This important and unique project places NYIT among top universities offering REU programs. We are extremely proud of our faculty and pleased about the access to opportunity that we are providing to undergraduate students nationwide with support from the National Science Foundation.” 

A team of faculty mentors from the NYIT School of Engineering and Computing Sciences will guide the participating undergraduate students during the summer and serve as project evaluators. Two NYIT engineering graduate students also are part of the project team. 

Projects include:

•    User Authentication Research for Mobile Devices
•    Collective Model of Future Smartphone Botnets
•    Implementation of Finite Field Arithmetic for Algebraic Cryptography on Mobile Devices
•    Detection of Node Capture Attack in Smartphone-Backbone Sensing Cloud
•    Smartphone Geolocation
•    Privacy-Protected Automated Medical Data Collection on Smartphones
•    Topology Control of Wireless Networks

To be considered for the 2013 summer program, undergraduate research candidates need to complete an online application and submit supporting documents. They will be selected based on their qualifications and research interest matches with the faculty mentors’ research projects. The 2013 summer program starts on June 2 and the research will be conducted at NYIT’s Manhattan campus.

Dong received her B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. She was awarded the Hashimoto Prize for the best Ph.D. dissertation in Electrical Engineering. She is the recipient of 2006 and 2007 Hashimoto Fellowship for outstanding scholarship and the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame Graduate Student Award for her inventions in network switches. Her research interests include architecture design and analysis of practical buffered crossbar packet switches, network security and forensics, wireless sensor networks, social networks and assistive medical devices.

About NYIT

New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) offers 90 degree programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, in more than 50 fields of study, including architecture and design; arts and sciences; education; engineering and computing sciences; health professions; management; and osteopathic medicine. A non-profit independent, private institution of higher education, NYIT has 14,000 students attending campuses on Long Island and Manhattan, online, and at its global campuses. NYIT sponsors 11 NCAA Division II programs and one Division I team.

Led by President Edward Guiliano, NYIT is guided by its mission to provide career-oriented professional education, offer access to opportunity to all qualified students, and support applications-oriented research that benefits the larger world. To date, more than 92,000 graduates have received degrees from NYIT. For more information, visit New York Institute of Technology at


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