Summer Research Program students explore Internet security, graduate school
Aug 18, 2017 By Victoria Grdina
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering recently wrapped up its second year of participation in the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Summer Research Program. Professors Byrav Ramamurthy, Witty Srisa-An, Qiben Yan,
Sheng Wei, and five graduate students spent 10 weeks mentoring six undergraduate students as they conducted research
on Internet security.
The group of visiting undergraduates included Victoria Moran of Harvey Mudd College, Jesse Schulman of Trinity University, Andrew Snyder of Drury University, and Quavanti Hart of Jackson State University. It also included two students from Nebraska: Brooke Lampe and Melia Deakin. Deakin conducted a related independent study with Ramamurthy alongside the program students.
The Summer Research Program is supported by the Office of Graduate Studies, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. The program is designed to help students further explore their field of study as well as future educational opportunities.
“One of the reasons we are doing this Summer Research Program is to motivate them to apply for grad school,” Ramamurthy said. “Not only to Nebraska—though we’d like that—but anywhere. And not even just next year or the year after, but any time.”
Not only does the program help students consider and prepare for application to graduate school, but it also helps them prepare to conduct research as a graduate student.
“Most grad students definitely get involved in research. That’s their main objective with a master’s or Ph.D.,” Ramamurthy said. “For undergraduate students, it’s normally not part of the curriculum unless they take a summer program like this or do a special topics course with a faculty member.”
This year’s group expanded on last year’s topic of mobile security and explored the security of software-defined
networks, space networks, and networks of the future. The students listened to lectures and planned their own
research projects to conduct with the guidance of one faculty member and one graduate student.
The students wrapped up the program by presenting their projects at the annual Nebraska Summer Research Symposium. Security topics included software analysis, intent spoofing, bundle protocol, and malware detection. Lampe’s research involved simulating communication and data attacks using resources in the Holland Computing Center—something that was new to her and the university.
“I’ve been working with the supercomputer there. I have a bunch of virtual machines that are running from that computing center,” Lampe said. “Neither Dr. Ramamurthy or my grad student mentor had really worked with the simulator that I’m using now. It’s really interesting working on something that’s a new area for the university.”
Each of the students said they gained experience in an area of computing that was new to them and agreed that what they learned will be beneficial no matter what path they choose after graduation.
“I think it’s a good experience because it will open me up to more opportunities when it comes to going to graduate school or looking for a professional career,” Hart said.
Lampe said she is planning to attend graduate school, but not for a few years, since she’ll only be a sophomore at Nebraska this fall. For now, she’s appreciating how her research has expanded her knowledge and skills as an undergraduate.
“I’ve learned about named data networking, which I didn’t even know existed before I came to this program, and now I feel really comfortable talking about it and like I know a lot about it,” Lampe said. “I’ve really enjoyed the experience.”