Saman Zonouz Wins 2019 PECASE Award

ECE Associate Professor Saman Zonouz has been awarded the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Award. The PECASE is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology. Established in 1996, the PECASE acknowledges the contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service as demonstrated by scientific leadership, public education, and community outreach. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy coordinates the PECASE with participating departments and agencies. Please see the announcement from the White House here.

Saman was recognized at a ceremony at the White House on July 25 for his research related to his NSF CAREER Award on the project "Trustworthy and Adaptive Intrusion Tolerance Capabilities in Cyber-Physical Critical Infrastructures." In this project Saman will design secure mechanisms for cyber-physical critical infrastructures that integrate networks of computational and physical processes to provide the society with essential services. The power grid, in particular, is a vast and interconnected cyber-physical network for delivering electricity from generation plants to end-point consumers. Protecting power grid critical infrastructures is a vital necessity because the failure of these systems would have a debilitating impact on economic security and public health and safety. However, several recent large-scale outages and the significant increase in the number of major attacks over the past four years confirm the insufficiency of the current protection solutions for these systems. Existing tedious manual tolerance procedures cannot protect those grids against sophisticated attacks. Additionally, the use of purely-cyber security solutions for power grid resiliency is not sufficient because they ignore the cyber-physical interdependencies, power-side sensor measurements, and the possibility of countermeasures in power infrastructures. The objective of this research is to investigate fundamental problems in cyber-physical tolerance and develop an integrated set of mathematically rigorous and real-world deployable capabilities, resulting in a system that can model, analyze, predict, and tolerate complex security incidents in computing, physical, or communication assets in a near-real-time manner. The proposed research will provide system administrators and power grid operators with scalable and online integrated cyber-physical monitoring and incident response capabilities through keeping track of cyber-physical infrastructures' dynamic evolution caused by distributed security incidents, optimal proactive response and recovery countermeasures and adaptive preparation for potential future security incidents.

Congratulations on this outstanding achievement Saman!