CUNY Graduate Center Receives $3 Million Through Google Cyber NYC Institutional Research Program

August 8, 2023

The program is designed to spur cybersecurity research and increase diversity in the field, and nine CUNY faculty members will receive support in the first year.

Google Cybersecurity Grant Recipients 9 Professors
Faculty winners of CUNY Google grant: top row (l to r): Liang Zhao, Nelly Fazio, Ping Ji; middle row (l to r): Rosario Gennaro, Xiaowen Zhang, Samah Saeed; bottom row (l to r): Sarah Ita Levitan, Shweta Jain, Saptarshi Debroy.

The CUNY Graduate Center has been awarded $3 million over three years from Google as one of four universities, along with Columbia University, Cornell University, and New York University, selected to participate in the $12 million Google Cyber NYC Institutional Research Program. The ambitious program, announced in June, is intended to enhance cybersecurity research and education and establish New York City as the global leader in cybersecurity. The funding will support cutting-edge research and will be used to expand educational opportunities for diverse students seeking advanced degrees in cybersecurity. 

“We are proud that Google has recognized CUNY’s excellence in this area and that they are partnering with us to educate and train a diverse group of cybersecurity experts who over the next few years will be exposed to and help develop more effective cybersecurity measures,” said Joshua Brumberg, CUNY Graduate Center dean for the sciences, at the kickoff event in June. “Google’s funding will also help support CUNY-based research projects to develop cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies that better protect information and access to valuable assets.”

“At Google, we’re committed to being bold and responsible stewards of emerging technology like AI, so we're working together with four of New York's leading institutions to make sure the city is prepared as the threat landscape continually shifts,” said Phil Venables, chief information security office for Google Cloud, at the kickoff event.

“We look forward to collaborating with researchers and educators from the computer science discipline and from the humanities and social sciences as well as industry experts to collaborate in solving complex and pressing cybersecurity problems,” said Professor Ping Ji, executive officer of the Graduate Center’s Computer Science program and the principal investigator of the CUNY grant. “As an institution proud of our diverse and inclusive culture, we at CUNY see ourselves mirrored in this initiative. We wholeheartedly embrace this commitment to recruit and develop talent from underrepresented groups and use it as a conduit to address diversity gaps in the cybersecurity industry.”

Learn More About the Ph.D. Program in Computer Science

The Graduate Center, part of the nation’s largest urban, public university, is one of the largest and most diverse doctoral degree–granting institutions in the U.S. It ranks 13th in Ph.D. degrees awarded to Latinx individuals and is a founding member of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities.

The Graduate Center’s Computer Science program is one of the school’s 31 doctoral programs. Designed as a consortium, the program encompasses faculty from the Graduate Center and more than 10 CUNY campuses.

“The Google Cyber NYC initiative will empower us to broaden our mission and our reach and train diverse students for jobs that are in high demand,” Ji said.

The initiative will support at least 21 faculty-led research projects over three years and will fund educational programs that create research and training opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. Ji is collaborating with Computer Science faculty from multiple CUNY campuses as well as external partners from Columbia, Cornell, and NYU to develop projects that will serve CUNY students.  

In July, the Graduate Center announced the seven CUNY faculty-led research projects that received funding from the initiative this year. Each project is awarded $80,000 in direct funding and $20,000 in Google Cloud services. This year’s winning projects are led by nine faculty members from six CUNY campuses.

The CUNY grant winners are:

Saptarshi Debroy, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College, for Optimized Deep Neural Network (DNN) Model Extraction Threat Exploration and Mitigation

Rosario Gennaro, Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and The City College of New York, and Nelly Fazio, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and The City College of New York, for Zero-Knowledge SNARKs: New Schemes and Applications

Ping Ji, Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and John Jay College, for Ethical Network Monitoring and Forensics for Small Business

Sarah Ita Levitan, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Linguistics at the CUNY Graduate Center and Hunter College, and Shweta Jain, Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for News or Opinion: Fine Grained Analysis of Text Data to Inform Online Readers

Samah Saeed, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at The City College of New York, for Co-design Security and Reliability Features of Quantum Systems

Xiaowen Zhang, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island, for Applying Secret Sharing Scheme in Cyber Attack Detection

Liang Zhao, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the CUNY Graduate Center and Lehman College, for Model Agnostic Defense Against Privacy Attacks with Data Distillation

The CUNY Graduate Center congratulates the faculty winners and will share additional information about their projects soon.

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