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Computer science faculty receive early career awards

This year, the National Science Foundation began giving CISE Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) Awards to boost the careers of young computer science faculty members – and three members of the Department of Computer Science received them, tying the University of Rochester with Penn State for the most awards received by a single university.

Assistant professors John Criswell, Philip Guo, and M. Ehsan Hoque are the recipients.

“This is a fitting testament to the caliber of our junior faculty,” says department chair Sandhya Dwarkadas.

The CRII awards are for “potentially transformative proposals” from principal investigators who are in their first academic position after receiving their PhDs. The goal is for each investigator to “achieve research independence early in his or her career.”

John Criswell will develop an automated tool that can determine whether existing countermeasures against hacking are effective. The project also will develop metrics to enable the users to compare defenses and state the level of security that a defense provides to a given program.

Philip Guo will develop innovative software to broaden access to free one-on-one tutoring in computer programming, which is crucial for many of today’s jobs. His system will match up students with peer tutors who have recently mastered the same material based on the needs of the student. The program will be an add-on to a pre-existing Python language tutoring service, Online Python Tutor.

Ehsan Hoque will build on his prior work and develop a ubiquitously available (cloud-based) automated social sensing framework that can recognize and interpret human nonverbal data (including facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.). This framework could then present constructive feedback to its users, when and where they want, to improve their speaking and social skills.