By Kimberley Clementi
Emerging technologies have made the world a smaller place. Smart phones and Internet of Things (IoT) devices make information access immediate and proximal. They also amplify one of computer science’s most pressing challenges: how to make this computerized world safe for everyone.
Earlence Fernandes, a new assistant professor in UC San Diego’s Computer Science and Engineering Department, is tackling that central question with potential implications for businesses, home security and personal privacy. His research focuses on computer security from a systems perspective and aims to resolve potential problems at the design level long before newly developed technology is widely deployed.
“My goal is to anticipate the security issues of emerging technologies and establish their security foundations so that society can gain the benefits of tech without the security problems,” said Fernandes. “Ultimately, building secure systems will make sensitive resources less vulnerable to attackers.”
Fernandes, a recipient of the 2022 National Science Foundation CAREER Award, will bring his research on “Security and Privacy Foundations of Internet-Scale User-Centered Automation” to the university. He is also the recipient of a 2022 Amazon Research Award for his proposal “Verifiable Distributed Computation.” His areas of interest include distributed authorization, trusted computing, IoT and augmented reality (AR).
Fernandes was eager to join UC San Diego for a few reasons – some professional, others personal. Most notably, the CSE department has a longstanding reputation of excellence, but like other Southern California transplants, Fernandes acknowledges San Diego’s moderate climate sweetened the offer.
“I came to UC San Diego to work and do research with the excellent students and faculty in the CSE department. And for the weather,” added Fernandes, who enjoys cycling on sunny days. “It’s similar to where I grew up, and the ocean reminds me of home.”
Fernandes earned his B.E. (Bachelor of Engineering) from the University of Pune in Pune, India. It’s also where Fernandes began his career as a software engineer at Accenture before taking a position at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2017, Fernandes earned his PhD in computer security from the University of Michigan followed by positions with the University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Fernandes’ work has been featured in Wired, The Verge, Ars Technica, Science Magazine and Nature and is on display at the Science Museum in London. He is also author of an ebook, Instant Android System Development, a how-to guide for seasoned Android SDK programmers.