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ODU Faculty Members Win NSF REU Cybersecurity Site Grant

A team of faculty members in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Old Dominion University has received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide undergraduate research opportunities in the critical area of cybersecurity.

The three-year, $360,000 grant will fund research projects by 10 undergraduates from across the United States in cybersecurity, partnering with a multidisciplinary group of Old Dominion faculty members.

"Cybersecurity is a priority area of national need. As a multidisciplinary field, cybersecurity requires that professionals have knowledge and skills in various related disciplines," said ChunSheng Xin, associate professor and director of the Cybersecurity, Communications & Networking Innovation Lab in the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology and a principal investigator on the grant.

Other investigators include Khan Iftekharuddin, professor and chair of electrical and computer engineering; Jiang Li, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Wu He, assistant professor of information technology and decision sciences.

The grant is funded under the NSF's Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) program. It is the second NSF REU site at Old Dominion. Sandeep Kumar, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Xiaoyu Zhang, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, are leading Training Undergraduates in Electrochemical Technologies for Clean Fuels, a study of the viability of hydrogen and biological materials for making affordable alternative fuels.

The Cybersecurity NSF REU project is being assisted by faculty through the University's Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research, established in 2015 to help Old Dominion meet critical needs in research and workforce development to strengthen the state's and nation's economies.

Faculty members in the Colleges of Business, Engineering and Arts & Letters will provide multidisciplinary expertise for the initiative.

The objective is to establish a multidisciplinary research environment in cybersecurity at ODU, mentoring 10 undergraduates for 10 weeks in summer research. The students will master research methodologies and obtain valuable experience in an area of critical national need, and also will be better prepared for graduate studies.

The first cohort of student researchers - selected from more than 100 applicants nationwide, including students from Ohio State University, Penn State and Columbia University - will begin their summer work at Old Dominion on May 30.

In addition to their research projects, they will benefit from a series of social events, seminars, career panels and field trips.

Please see the University website for more information about Old Dominion's NSF REU program.

Cybersecurity remains a top priority for Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the public and private industry leaders in the commonwealth, with 36,000 positions in cyber-related industries vacant in Virginia.

Old Dominion recognized this critical need in launching its cybersecurity initiative, hiring internationally recognized scholar Hongyi "Michael" Wu as its first Batten Chair of Cybersecurity.

The University's Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research blends the work of more than two dozen faculty members at Old Dominion. ODU has blended coursework with research, bringing together faculty, staff, students, community members and other partners to discuss how to study and teach cybersecurity.

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