UC San Diego IT security and privacy pioneer named ACM Fellow

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San Diego, California – January 23, 2023 – Farinaz Koushanfar, a professor and research fellow at the Henry Booker Faculty of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, has been named one of 57 members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for 2022. Koushanfar is recognized for her contributions to secure computing and privacy-preserving machine learning.

The ACM Fellows program recognizes the top 1% of ACM members for outstanding achievement in computing and information technology and outstanding service to ACM and the broader computing community.

Koushanfar leads the Adaptive computing and embedded systems (ACES) Lab at UC San Diego. His lab’s work has transformed the important areas of hardware-based security, secure AI, and privacy-preserving computing. Koushanfar is also the founding co-director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence, Computing and Security (MICS)an engineering research center at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering focused on technical innovation and the development of the diverse workforce through the integration of hardware, software, AI algorithms and of data for scalable machine learning and security.

“I am honored to be recognized with this esteemed class of ACM Fellows,” Koushanfar said. “I’m very excited about the long-term prospects and potential societal impact of my work in the fields of security, privacy and AI. I am grateful for the privileges offered to me by the academic institutions where I have worked and studied, and by the scientific community as a whole throughout my research career. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to my mentors, collaborators, post-docs and students for their unwavering support and their contributions to our common projects.

Koushanfar’s original contributions to the field of computer science are considerable. His research has resulted in widely used software and dozens of patents filed in the United States and around the world. His notable inventions ensure the security of digital integrated circuits (ICs) and their software/data, the robustness of AI models, and privacy-preserving computation.

She invented the first-ever methodology to actively and uniquely lock down, track and control every IC post-manufacture. Koushanfar’s two recent patent-pending works define the state of the art for the challenging problem of cryptographically secure deep learning on encrypted data.

Koushanfar is also the inventor of the first hardware accelerator for deep learning that is safe and robust to adversarial samples, as well as the first AI accelerator robust to data poisoning. She is the inventor of the first deep learning watermarking method that is simultaneously robust to several classes of known vulnerabilities. Koushanfar is also a prominent supporter of women and minorities and has spearheaded several DEI initiatives. Under her leadership (and in collaboration with the Co-Director of MICS), the UCSD ACES laboratory and MICS center are now among the most balanced engineering research groups in the world in terms of students and faculty.

“The most important advances in computing are often the result of a collection of many individual contributions, which build on and complement each other,” said ACM President Yannis Ioannidis in a statement. “But each individual contribution is an essential link in the chain. The ACM Fellows program is a way to recognize the women and men whose hard work and creativity happen quietly but drive our field. By selecting a new class of ACM Fellows each year, we also hope that learning from these leaders could inspire all of our members with ideas for their own work.

Prior to his recognition by the ACM, Koushanfar’s influential publications received several best paper awards at top conferences in his field. She has received several other accolades and awards, including listing in 2008 MIT Technology Review (TR-35) as one of the top 35 global innovators under 35, 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama, 2019 elevation to Fellowship in the Institute of Electrical and Computer Engineers and the Ten Year Retrospective Most Influential Paper Award at the 2017 International Conference on Computer Aided Design.

Koushanfar now joins a diverse class of 2022 ACM Fellows representing research centers, universities, and private companies based in ten different countries around the world. Fellows are nominated by their peers, with applications reviewed by a distinguished selection committee.

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