NSF Award Funds Data-Privacy Research Project

Computer Scientist Chosen Under Program that Recognizes Promising Faculty

Jan. 9, 2009

UT Dallas computer scientist Murat Kantarcioglu has received a $400,000 award from the National Science Foundation Early Career Development Program, which is a highly selective program for junior faculty who are considered likely to become leaders in their field.

The award will fund a five-year effort to develop privacy-preserving technologies that could open the door to the widespread use of e-health and e-government applications.

“The CAREER program is one of the most competitive programs at NSF, and Murat’s award is a recognition of the excellence of his research and his potential to become a top national researcher,” said Mark Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering.

“This also demonstrates the National Science Foundation’s recognition that the Erik Jonsson School is able to attract the best and brightest of the nation’s young researchers,” Spong said.

An assistant professor of computer science, Dr. Kantarcioglu is pursuing research that explores how to store, query and mine large amounts of data while preserving security and privacy.

His NSF project will address the problem of maintaining information privacy when organizations electronically share large amounts of data – such as a state’s taxpayer information or a hospital’s patient records. Both of the most popular techniques for protecting privacy in such situations have significant drawbacks.

Dr. Kantarcioglu’s idea is to combine aspects of those two techniques in a novel and cost-effective way.

“This research could have a direct economic impact by opening the way for new applications that are at present considered infeasible due to the lack of necessary privacy-preserving solutions that can work efficiently on large data sets,” he said.

Junior faculty are allowed three attempts at winning an NSF CAREER award, and very few succeed on their first try as Dr. Kantarcioglu has done, noted Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, director of the UT Dallas Cyber Security Research Center and a former NSF program director.

“We are very pleased with the recognition that Murat’s work is receiving,” she added. “His research is critical to UT Dallas' programs in data security.”

Dr. Kantarcioglu joined UT Dallas in 2005 after receiving his Ph.D. in computer science from Purdue University. His other activities include acting as the technical lead for the University’s five-year Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative award, a $7.5 million contract designed to produce greater communication among government agencies.


Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu

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Murat Kantarcioglu

Murat Kantarcioglu’s project will address the problem of maintaining information privacy when organizations electronically share large amounts of data – such as taxpayer information or a hospital patient records.

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