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Cybersecurity Work Leads to Center of Academic Excellence Designation

July 26, 2019

Cyberdefense is a key piece of Mizzou Engineering’s increased focus and support of research in big data analytics. Keeping data secure is critical for individuals, corporations and public entities around the globe, and Mizzou Engineering’s work in the realm of cybersecurity is world class.

The official seals of the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency of the United States of America

But don’t just take our word for it. The National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security think so, too, which is why they recently named the university a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research.

According to the NSA and DHS, this designation comes only after accredited institutions meet “stringent criteria” for selection.

“In the application, we need to demonstrate ongoing excellence in research, education, training and outreach in the field of cybersecurity,” said Rohit Chadha, MU associate professor of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and one of Mizzou’s foremost cybersecurity experts.

Researchers such as Chadha, Prasad Calyam, Bill Harrison and others have done remarkable work in cybersecurity in recent years, and have worked to train the next generation of cyberdefense professionals.

They established the Cyber Security Initiative at the University of Missouri, which includes affiliated faculty from across the campus, including the College of Arts and Science, the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business, and the School of Law, in addition to the College of Engineering. They have also secured cybersecurity-related funding in recent years from U.S. defense and intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, as well as from other federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy.

With a commitment to student success, these researchers have successfully mentored several doctoral, master’s and post-doctoral students who have joined cybersecurity careers in industry and academia, and have published in highly selective cybersecurity journals. They have also mentored student teams that have competed and won multiple cyber challenges at the state and national levels.

In addition, they have developed rigorous cybersecurity-related curricula and additional educational programs, including a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates and the Hacker Trackers summer camp for high school students.

“Within the College of Engineering, our primary cyberdefense strengths are in the areas of application of formal methods to security and cloud security. We have recently added new faculty in the areas of hardware security, applied cryptography, and privacy/security issues in social media and Internet of Things,” Chadha explained.

Achieving such a lofty designation from the NSA and DHS also shows the importance Mizzou Engineering has placed on cybersecurity in terms of resources, faculty and more.

“It places the College and Engineering and Mizzou as a prominent research university in cybersecurity and reflects our commitment to this area of national interest,” Chadha said. “The College of Engineering and the University of Missouri have identified cybersecurity as a strategic area to invest resources, given the national importance of the field. This distinction validates their decision and gives it a fresh impetus.

“I am thrilled at our collective effort receiving this recognition. It is great to be a part of such a distinguished group of researchers.”