Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, a professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Dallas and one of the world’s leading experts in data security and data mining, has been elected a fellow of two highly prestigious international technology organizations.
Thuraisingham, the Louis A. Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor and executive director of the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute at UT Dallas, was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Both appointments were announced in December.
“I am most honored to be elected a fellow of ACM and NAI within the same month,” she said. “As a computer scientist, researcher and educator, being a fellow of ACM is a tremendous honor. And as an innovator of technology, being a fellow of NAI is extremely gratifying.”
The ACM honor is based on pivotal professional experience and significant achievements in computing. Thuraisingham was cited for her contributions to methods, tools and systems for security and privacy of data and applications. She is among 56 ACM fellows named in 2018. She is the first at UT Dallas to achieve the distinction.
The NAI elected 148 new fellows in 2018. The distinction is given to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society.
“This is indeed an honor for her and for UTD,” said Dr. Poras Balsara, interim dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Reaching the pinnacle of just one of these organizations is an honor, but being named fellow to two organizations of this magnitude in the same month is quite creditable.”
Thuraisingham joins two other current UT Dallas faculty members as NAI fellows: Dr. James Coleman, professor of electrical engineering and holder of the Erik Jonsson Distinguished Chair, who was selected in 2014; and Dr. Ray Baughman, director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute and the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry, who was chosen in 2015.
“Professor Thuraisingham has made seminal research contributions to computer science, so these awards are not surprising at all,” said Dr. Gopal Gupta, department head of computer science at UT Dallas and holder of the Erik Jonsson Chair. “We are inspired by Dr. Thuraisingham’s impressive accomplishments from two highly regarded and reputable associations.”
Thuraisingham is well-known for working behind the scenes to protect billions of pieces of data, while finding ways to search for potential threats.
Before coming to UT Dallas in 2004, Thuraisingham worked in industry and government. She began her efforts in data security at Honeywell International Inc. in the 1980s and later at MITRE Corp., a nonprofit organization that works with government agencies, industry and academia to develop innovations in data science, cyber resilience and other technology areas. In the 1990s, Thuraisingham was among the first to discuss the privacy violations that could occur due to data mining.
After 9/11, Thuraisingham joined the National Science Foundation, where she started research programs in data security and participated in data-mining initiatives for counterterrorism.
At UT Dallas, she and her research team have pioneered new data-mining algorithms that they have applied to intrusion detection and insider threat detection. Her other research areas include pioneering layered framework for a secure cloud and secure information-sharing using the cloud. She has published more than 120 journal articles, 250 conference papers and 15 books, and has delivered more than 130 keynote and featured talks.
In addition to her ACM and NAI appointments, Thuraisingham is a fellow of several other organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the British Computer Society. She has received numerous professional awards for research innovation, leadership and technical achievement.
An advocate for women in technology, Thuraisingham also conducts extensive outreach efforts. She co-chaired the Women in CyberSecurity Conference in 2016 and delivered a featured address at the Women in Data Science Conference in 2018. She also received the Dallas Business Journal 2017 Women in Technology Award.