Phishing, fairness, and more: CyLab’s 2021 seed funding awardees

Daniel Tkacik

Feb 19, 2021

Over $350K in seed funding has been awarded to 14 different faculty and staff in seven different departments across three colleges at CMU. Funding was awarded based on the projects’ intellectual merit, originality, fit towards CyLab’s priorities, and potential impact.

“We’re excited to help seed and continue some exciting security and privacy research projects being conducted by faculty across the university,” said CyLab director Lorrie Cranor.

The awards selection committee, made up of CyLab-affiliated faculty and representatives from partner organizations, prioritized the following aspects in no particular order when making their selections:

  • Collaboration between CyLab faculty in multiple departments
  • Projects led by or having significant involvement of junior faculty
  • Seed projects that are good candidates for follow-on funding from government or industry sources
  • Projects that are making good progress but reaching the end of their previous funding and need funding to finish or to continue the project until other sources of funding are obtained
  • Efforts to transition research to practice, e.g. by preparing software for release as open source projects, conducting field trials, or deploying research results in real-world applications
  • Projects that can get started quickly and make significant progress with a small amount of funding
  • Non-traditional projects that may be difficult to fund through other sources
  • Education or outreach projects aimed at broadening participation in the security and privacy field

We’re excited to help seed and continue some exciting security and privacy research projects being conducted by faculty across the university.

Lorrie Cranor, Director, CyLab

Recipients of the awards will be required to submit brief quarterly reports outlining the progress of the project and present a talk or poster at the annual CyLab Partners Conference this Fall.


Updating Estimates of the Value of Time to Read Privacy Policies

  • Aleecia McDonald, Assistant Professor of the Practice, Information Networking Institute (INI)


Secure Software Evolution

  • Rohan Padhye, assistant professor, Institute for Software Research (ISR)


Exploit Synthesis for Node.js Packages

  • Limin Jia, Associate Research Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE)
  • Ruben Martins, Systems Scientist, Computer Science Department


Personalized Phishing Detection Training using Cognitive Models

  • Drew Cranford, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Psychology
  • Coty Gonzalez, Research Professor, Social and Decision Sciences (SDS)
  • Christian Lebiere, Research Psychologist, Department of Psychology
  • Palvi Aggarwal, Postdoctoral Fellow, SDS
  • Kuldeep Singh, Systems Software Associate, SDS


FedAtk: Interference Attacks on Personalized Learning Models


User-facing Analytics and Management of Consumer IoT Security


Evaluating the Impact of Communication Disruption on Vehicle to Grid Technologies

  • Amritanshu Pandey, Systems Scientist, ECE
  • Lawrence Pileggi, Professor and Department Head, ECE


On the Impact of Algorithmic Fairness Metrics and Methods on Trust in Machine Learning Systems

  • Hoda Heidari, Assistant Professor, Machine Learning Department & ISR