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NSF CAREER Award: Professor Romeil Sandhu Applies Mathematics to Improve Security and Reliability of Complex Networks

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Romeil Sandhu, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (BMI) jointly administered by the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and School of Medicine, has earned a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award. Sandhu received the $500,000 award for his project: Network Geometry for Analyzing Dynamical Systems.

Assistant Professor Romeil Sandhu
Assistant Professor Romeil Sandhu

Professor Sandhu’s research is focused on how we study and develop reliable communication and social systems that are robust to potential attack. His work could help to make these systems better able to combat these types of intrusions and extends well beyond such systems to areas in cancer biology, finance, and air traffic control. As he explains it, “we are interested in developing the underlying mathematical tools in hopes that it can be readily applied, through collaborators, to varying fields.”

As Sandhu explains it, “The thematic vision for this program is based on my previous work in which we showed that the concept of curvature, a measure of an object’s ‘flatness,’ is related to how a system is able to handle random disturbances,” he said. “We see curvature in everyday objects from your coffee cup to computer screen, but curvature is also a hidden feature that characterizes the functionality of a network. In this research, we seek to develop techniques to ‘control curvature’ and apply geometry in general such that we can make existing systems more secure and reliable.”

In addition to the proposed research, the NSF CAREER will also work with the Institute for STEM Education (I-STEM) to develop an outreach for U.S. Veteran high school dependents. “I am truly grateful that NSF recognized not only the merits of the research, but also provided the opportunity to develop an educational outreach for vet dependents — an issue close to my heart. Being raised in the military community of Huntsville, AL, I have always felt indebted to give back to those that serve our country. Providing guidance and opportunities to children who often have a parent deployed overseas is the least we can do for a segment of society that has sacrificed so much. Our ultimate goal is to build a self-sustaining program.”

“The NSF CAREER award is a milestone achievement and the most prestigious recognition that can be bestowed by NSF for junior faculty,” said Joel Saltz, MD, Cherith Professor and Founding Chair of BMI. “On the heels of a prestigious honor from the AFOSR [Air Force Office of Scientific Research], Rome’s research is a great example of the kind of visionary work being done in our department and at Stony Brook as a whole.”

Professor Sandhu, who is also affiliated with the Departments of Applied Mathematics and Statistics and Computer Science, joined the faculty of Stony Brook in Fall 2016. His research focuses on topics ranging from vision, controls, networks, and learning with a particular interest in the fusion of autonomous systems toward “non-expert” operators who possess expert knowledge.

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