IST grad student forges ties with South Korean university through NSF fellowship

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Priya Anand, a doctoral candidate in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), had an opportunity last summer to travel to Seoul, South Korea, to participate in a collaborative research project between Penn State and Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU). In addition to gathering useful data for her research on cloud security and expanding her professional network, Anand was able to get a glimpse of Korean culture, particularly its role in an academic environment.

Anand, a second-year doctoral student in the College of IST, was selected by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as one of 200 doctoral candidates across the nation to receive the 2015 East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI). NSF and selected foreign counterpart science and technology agencies sponsor international research institutes for U.S. graduate students in seven East Asia and Pacific locations at times set by the counterpart agencies between June and August each year. Anand conducted research at SKKU from June 6 to Aug. 8.

“I opted to work at SKKU because of the Penn State – SKKU collaboration,” Anand said. “Also, my academic adviser, Jungwoo Ryoo, had a long-term research collaboration with SKKU and introduced me to my host adviser, Hyoungshick Kim.”

An EAPSI award provides U.S. graduate students in science, engineering, and education with firsthand research experiences in Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, or Taiwan; an introduction to the science, science policy, and scientific infrastructure of the respective location; and an orientation to the society, culture, and language. It is expected that EAPSI awards will help students initiate professional relationships to enable future collaboration with foreign counterparts.

Anand, who was selected as one of 25 candidates to attend different universities in Korea, said that EAPSI is the only NSF fellowship that gives funding ($15,000) directly to the students. Anand’s research project was “Cloud Security — Architectural Analysis Using Security Patterns,” which she worked on at SKKU under the direction of Kim, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, College of Information and Communication Engineering at SKKU.

In recent years, Anand said, cloud computing has been a fast growing paradigm for storing and sharing data. However, there are many shortcomings in security, which is a major hindrance in adoption of cloud computing. For her project, Anand plans to identify a catalog of security patterns for the cloud-computing environment. All of her contributions in her prototype design would be formulated as new cloud security patterns. Anand’s NSF EAPSI award is funded in collaboration with the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF).

“We’re trying to make a catalog of security solutions,” Anand said. “This framework will enable us to select possible solutions from a list of patterns.”

While working in the lab at SKKU, Anand said, she was able to get access to a list of “all the security issues in that closed environment.” After identifying the patterns to be applied, she presented her findings at the International Conference on Software Security and Assurance (ICSSA) on July 27 at SKKU. Since leaving Seoul, Anand has continued her work by validating her results at Penn State’s Cyber Security Lab

One of the perks of working in the SKKU lab, Anand said, was being able to participate in discussions regarding the lab’s collaboration with Samsung. SKKU is partnering with the company as part of an effort to improve the security of mobile phones and also to enhance GPS tracking.

In addition to conducting research with her fellow lab members, Anand said, she learned a lot about Korean culture during her stay in Seoul and also about the differences between Korean and American academic environments. For example, she said, Korean graduate students have a great deal of respect for their advisers and defer to him/her in many instances. Also, Anand said, she was somewhat surprised by how Korean graduate students do almost everything with their classmates and offered to accompany her even when doing things as simple as getting coffee. That sense of camaraderie, she said, extended to the professional domain.

“I could see how much my project got enhanced with their input,” she said.

 Although Anand’s EAPSI experience has ended, she said she foresees her relationship with SKKU throughout her doctoral program and beyond.

“I’m looking forward to more collaboration with SKKU moving forward with my research,” she said.

Priya Anand, a doctoral candidate in Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, had an opportunity last summer to travel to Seoul, South Korea, to participate in a collaborative research project between Penn State and Sungkyunkwan University. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 05, 2015