With grants, NYUAD professors pursue research

Two NYU Abu Dhabi professors are continuing their projects in social science and engineering after receiving two prestigious research grants from the ...

Nov 23, 2013

Two NYU Abu Dhabi professors are continuing their projects in social science and engineering after receiving two prestigious research grants from the National Science Foundation, a U.S. federal agency that supports research conducted by faculty at U.S. universities and colleges.
Professor Hannah Brückner, associate dean of the Social Sciences, was awarded a [tooltip href="" tooltip=" 257,110.00 AED"] 70,000 USD  [/tooltip] two-year grant in collaboration with professor Julia Adams of Yale University to study gender bias in the content and contribution of Wikipedia articles on Aug. 28. Professor Ozgur Signanolu, assistant Professor of engineering, was awarded a 500,000 USD grant on Aug. 21 for three years to continue his project in chip design security.
Professor’s Brückner interest in the project started with her work in advocating gender equality in academia.
“My conviction has always been that science is science,” Brückner said. “So it shouldn’t be divided in the scholarship produced by a woman or a man.”
The project will call attention to gender bias in Wikipedia and investigate its causes in the content of three main disciplines: sociology, computer science and history. The pair will collect data about professors who teach in these three departments at 100 U.S. universities and analyze their probability of being featured on Wikipedia based on the professors’ ranks, number of publications and citations.
The duo will then compare their evaluation to the Wikipedia database to see who is mentioned and whether there is a gap in the percentage of male versus female professors.
Brückner hopes that the research can help Wikipedia become a less biased platform.
“So many people are using Wikipedia, and the academia itself is changing to be more integrated and more equitable,” Brückner said. “[Wikipedia is] demographic knowledge, where everybody, whether they are rich or poor, well-educated or not ... can contribute. It would be too bad if that [resulted in] a construction of academic and scientific work as being something that men do and not something that women do.”
Signanolu’s project is a collaboration between his lab at NYUAD and Ramesh Karri, a professor at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. Their research focuses on improving the design for electronic chips and reducing security threats including counterfeit chips and Trojan viruses.
Signanolu said that the increasing necessity for chip security comes from the globalization of chip manufacturing.
“The supply chain is distributed worldwide, which is great for dealing with cost issues. However, on the other hand … it introduces security issues,” Signanolu said. “The threats weren’t known or existed twenty years back because … people used to design and fabricate their own chips.”
The goal of the research project is to raise corporations’ awareness about these issues and come up with a software solution to produce more-secure chips.
Signanolu said that one of the potential solutions could be additional units on the chip that would expose any future tampering or damage.
Along with the technical research, which involves coding and creating computer tools, Signanolu and his team have been publishing papers and presenting their research at conferences. They also organize workshops where they bring together companies and government agencies such as the Army Research Office to discuss the security issues they face.
The collaborations between NYUAD faculty like Signanolu and Brückner with other U.S. institutions bring to light the importance of international collaboration on research projects.
“It’s a perfect collaboration that shows the nice thing about [the Global Network University],” said Signanolu. “Two different campuses collaborating on one project.”
Thinh Tran is a staff writer. Email her at
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