Birhanu Eshete’s connection to computers began in the most analog of ways: seeing a picture and a description of one in a senior-year high school textbook in Ethiopia, where he grew up. He went on to pursue the study of computer science at the highest levels, recently completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the UIC College of Engineering and accepting a full-time tenure-track position at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

This semester, Dr. Eshete will cultivate his own research agenda—focused on data-driven and measurement-driven advances in cybersecurity—while supporting Dearborn students in their development as the next generation of scholars.

It is work that will be strengthened by his experience at UIC, where he worked for five years with Professor Venkat Venkatakrishnan.

“I feel very lucky to have worked with Professor Venkat and benefited from his rich experience in independent/collaborative research, grant writing, mentoring, and above all the value of critical thinking in pursuit of solutions for important problems in cybersecurity,” Dr. Eshete said.

Cybersecurity issues are indeed important to all of us. Dr. Eshete offered this example: let’s say, after visiting some websites, you get a notification that your credit card was used fraudulently. Of course, you’d contact your bank to file a report. But Dr. Eshete asks, “Wouldn’t you wish you were protected from such a nightmare in the first place? My work is aimed at developing techniques and tools for the detection and protection of this sort of scary episode in order to keep you safe online.”

Within the next five years, Dr. Eshete hopes to generate new research insight in this area —

and to mentor doctoral students, establish a well-regarded lab, and work alongside colleagues to grow Dearborn’s relatively new cybersecurity center into an interdisciplinary site for research, education, and outreach in the field. In addition, he looks forward “to collaborating with UIC on areas of mutual interest and excitement.”

Here at UIC, Dr. Venkatakrishnan notes some highlights of Dr. Eshete’s post-doctoral fellowship, which culminated in co-authorship of a paper that won a distinguished paper award at USENIX 2018, the top conference for research in system security.

“Birhanu is at ease building on traditional techniques from system security as well as emerging data-driven approaches to building secure systems,” Dr. Venkatakrishnan said. “He is well-positioned to become a leader in bringing these approaches closer than before.”

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