Wenjing Lou has been recognized as one of her field’s most cited researchers in the world. 

The W.C. English Professor of Computer Science, Lou was one of six Virginia Tech researchers recently named to Clarivate’s Highly Cited Researchers 2023 list. A global company that maintains the Web of Science, Clarivate compiles an annual list of researchers who demonstrated significant influence through the publication of multiple highly cited papers during the last decade.

Citations — other scientists referencing a researcher’s findings in their own academic papers — are not only an acknowledgment of excellent work, but an indicator that work is playing a significant role in moving the researcher’s field forward. This group of highly cited researchers represents about 1 in 1,000 of the scientists and social scientists in the world, according to Clarivate.

Along with Lou, Virginia Tech’s Walid Saad, Linsey Marr, Lina Quan, Kwok Tsui, and Zheng "Phil" Xiang were also among 7,127 researchers from 68 countries and regions recognized this year. 

About Lou

  • Joined Virginia Tech in 2011
  • Holds a courtesy appointment in electrical and computer engineering, is an affiliate faculty member of the Virginia Tech-led Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, and has been an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow since 2015
  • Was recognized with the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 2018
  • Research interests include cybersecurity with a focus on blockchain, privacy protection in machine learning systems, mobile ad hoc networks, and security and privacy problems in the Internet of Things systems
  • Has been named a highly cited researcher five times
  • Most cited work: "Achieving Secure, Scalable, and Fine-grained Data Access Control in Cloud Computing"

In the researcher’s words

What does it mean to you to be among the most highly cited researchers?

I am honored to be among this group of highly cited researchers. The frequent referencing of our work provides me with the confidence that our contributions are making a meaningful impact in the field. As a researcher, this acknowledgment brings joy and serves as a humbling encouragement, motivating me to persist in my continuous pursuit of advancing knowledge through ongoing research.

What do you most want people to know about your research?

While my research focuses on cybersecurity, my research interests encompass multiple technical fields: security, cryptography, wireless networks, mobile computing, cloud systems, blockchain, and machine learning. As our physical and cyber worlds become more intertwined, the significance of cybersecurity continues to grow. The current cybersecurity landscape is characterized by greater complexity, a broader range of threats, and a collective effort to protect digital assets and privacy. The continuous evolution of technology requires continuous adaptation and innovation in cybersecurity measures to effectively address emerging challenges. 

What work on the horizon most excites you?

Two research directions are particularly interesting to me. The first is privacy, where I am most concerned about the potential misuse or leakage of information that is accumulated or available at service providers. Database leakage from service providers often results in significant, large-scale privacy breaches. Protecting individual user’s privacy against service providers is a hard problem. My research aims to develop practical privacy enhancing technologies that allow users to enjoy the services provided by service providers while at the same time preserving their privacy against these entities.

Another significant area of research that captures my interest is adversarial machine learning. Given the widespread adoption of machine learning technologies across diverse applications, understanding model vulnerabilities and real-world adversarial threats to machine learning systems is paramount. This line of research seeks to enhance the robustness, security, and privacy of machine learning systems, ensuring their reliability in the face of evolving threats.

What motivates you to keep moving forward?

Many factors drive my professional journey, with the most important force being the opportunity to work with a group of young and talented students. Witnessing their growth and successful achievement of their career goals is immensely rewarding. Additionally, I find great satisfaction in the moments when we generate new ideas and insight, overcoming challenges one after another on the path to exploring emerging technologies and establishing a more secure cyberworld.  

What advice would you give to new research faculty?

 Select your research topic wisely. It has to be something you have passion about. 

Then: “Start by doing what is necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — St. Francis of Assisi.

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