CSE Faculty Are Among Google’s First Trust & Safety Research Award Winners

Jan 31, 2024
CSE faculty members Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick, Stefan Savage and Kristen Vaccaro are among the inaugural winners of the Google Trust & Safety Research Award

Three faculty members from UC San Diego’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) are among the inaugural group of 15 academic researchers worldwide to receive Google’s Trust & Safety Research Award. Associate Professor Taylor Berg-Kirkpatrick, Professor Stefan Savage, and Assistant Professor Kristen Vaccaro were recognized – along with researchers from 11 other universities – for their efforts to create positive societal impact with technology.

CSE professors Berg-Kirkpatrick and Savage were selected by Google for a collaborative proposal blending their expertise in natural language processing and cybersecurity. The colleagues plan to use Large Language Models (LLMs) to understand digital fraudster behavior by experimenting with chatbots as honeypots. Their study could help researchers develop a tool that can detect malicious online activity and gather intelligence on emerging threats.

CSE’s Vaccaro was joined by former CSE Teaching Professor Mai ElSherief, now at Northeastern University, in a proposal on misinformation patterns. Specifically, they are studying misinformation about migrants with a parallel study of U.S. and EU misinformation patterns. The two researchers aim to increase awareness and drive positive outcomes for affected populations.

The Trust & Safety Research Awards provide grants of up to $100,000 each to support research efforts across disciplines and areas of interest related to Trust and Safety in technology. The winners will study and propose solutions to some of the most pressing questions in tech policy — from advocating for child and teen safety, to combating misinformation. Google’s goal with the awards is to bridge the gap between academic researchers and technologists developing innovative new products to improve outcomes for the ecosystem as a whole.