This funding establishes a new Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site at Pennsylvania State University. An interdisciplinary team of experienced faculty mentors will guide undergraduate students in summer research projects focused on applying machine learning methods to solve cybersecurity problems, particularly cyber-attacks. The dramatic increase in the amount of data and complexity of data generated in sciences, government, and the business world and the increasing frequency of cyber-related attacks exploiting the vulnerabilities of the data, have made cybersecurity a critical national priority. The site will recruit a cohort of 9 students each summer who will work on research projects that are challenging and important. The project team will use a network of collaborators at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and at Hispanic-Serving Institutions to recruit students from under-represented minorities to participate in the REU Site. The students will also participate in other professional development that will help prepare them for graduate studies and careers in computing.
The intellectual merit of this project lies in the focus on machine learning and cybersecurity and the strong faculty group guiding the research as well as the state-of-the art laboratory facilities the students will use. As the amount and complexity of the digital footprints that cyber adversaries and attackers leave behind rapidly increase, defense mechanisms need to be able to handle and exploit the large amount of data to the fullest. This site will work on important problems in this area and can potentially contribute to the body of knowledge of cybersecurity research.