Cybersecurity research aims for impact at Virginia Tech
While a “eureka” moment might strike in a bathtub, it doesn’t usually start there.
To pave a path toward cyber discoveries and technologies, the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) in Southwest Virginia is investing in researchers working at the intersection of data, autonomy, and security. The initiative opened its next call for proposals, Cybersecurity Research FY24, earlier this month. Research proposals are due June 9.
The projects listed below are supported in part by these CCI Cybersecurity Research awards. They are advancing scientific understanding and plugging students into active research labs while also landing external grants and stimulating new opportunities.
Securing satellite internet
CCI researchers target faster, safer, more reliable internet coverage by connecting satellite mega constellations.
- Secured a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to develop a network test bed to connect mega-constellations of satellites.
- Built the world’s first hardware-in-the-loop test bed that emulates the changing connectivity of a mega satellite constellation at scale.
- Hosted a workshop to unite researchers and funding agencies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to establish a shared community vision of a space networking infrastructure.
Jonathan Black: professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and co-director of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research (Space@VT); Samantha Parry Kenyon: research associate in aerospace and ocean engineering and Space@VT.
Exploring pathways to inherently secure quantum networks
By leveraging the behavior of physics at the quantum level, CCI researchers are examining how quantum networks could revolutionize cybersecurity.
- Received National Science Foundation support to develop the building blocks of quantum network architectures as part of a $2.4 million grant.
- Established a cross-disciplinary collaboration to build and extend a network of quantum processors, which may one day secure everyday communications and securely connect us to the power of quantum computation.
- Hosted the Virginia Tech Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering inaugural symposium.
Sophia Economou, T. Marshall Hahn Chair in Physics in the College of Science and director of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering; Edwin Barnes, professor of physics; Jamie Sikora, assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering.
Modeling the Virginia Tech smart grid of the future
CCI researchers are simulating how a 5G-enabled Virginia Tech microgrid can integrate new solar panels, fend off cyberattacks, and store energy for use in a power outage.
- Secured a $3 million Department of Energy grant to improve grid cybersecurity.
- Simulated a smart grid for Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus to develop advanced technology and solve complex power grid problems.
- Hosted a workshop on the cybersecurity of the power grid.
- Advanced the Virginia Tech Climate Action Working Group’s effort to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 — a goal approved the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors in March 2021.
Chen-Ching Liu: American Electric Power Professor and director of the Power and Energy Center in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering; Ali Mehrizi-Sani: associate professor in electrical and computer engineering.