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The first winner of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Impact Award is Duminda Wijesekera, computer science professor and acting chair of the Department of Cyber Security Engineering at George Mason University.
“I am delighted and honored to receive the award,” Wijesekera said. “CCI funding has made it possible to work on projects that could change our daily lives. These projects include autonomous vehicle security, 5G, and such 5G applications as connected transportation, smart building, and smart city initiatives. It’s exciting to help students learn about these advances in the excellent research atmosphere created by CCI.”
The CCI Impact Award recognizes an individual, group, or organization that has conducted breakthrough cybersecurity research or innovation or developed creative ways to improve the cybersecurity workforce opportunities for our industry partners or students. The winner was selected by a subcommittee of five members of the CCI Technical Advisory Board.
"The five nominees for this award have made incredible contributions to CCI's mission, including recognized research leadership, student mentoring, and entrepreneurship in cybersecurity,” said Luiz DaSilva, CCI executive director. “I am thrilled for their success, and in particular for the recognition of Duminda's impact on securing cyber-physical systems, from manufacturing to smart transportation."
Wijesekera has led or participated in more than 10 CCI research projects with dozens of faculty and numerous industry and government partners, secured or filed multiple patents, and attracted millions of dollars of new investment in Virginia's cybersecurity research enterprise, said Liza Wilson Durant, director of the CCI Northern Virginia (NoVA) regional node and associate provost at George Mason University.
"The CCI NoVa Node community is proud to see Dr. Wijesekera recognized for the profound impact his collaborative leadership and expertise have had on the success and economic impact of CCI,” said Durant. “He has strategically built the CCI NoVa Node's Living Innovation Lab assets to advance the security of Next G across many Internet of Things applications and has been generous with his time to mentor and collaborate.”
"The efforts of Dr. WIjesekera and the several hundred other Virginia faculty who are working to advance cybersecurity research and innovation in Virginia are the secret sauce to CCI's success in elevating Virginia as a global leader in cybersecurity with more than $77 million of economic impact to date," Durant said.
Researchers nominated for the award include:
Adwait Nadkarni, an assistant professor in the department of computer science and director of the Secure Platforms Lab at the College of William & Mary.
Haiying Shen, an associate professor in the department of computer science, the department of systems and Information engineering, and the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Virginia.
Sachin Shetty, the executive director of the Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems at Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, and holds a joint appointment as a professor of computational modeling and simulation engineering at Old Dominion University.
Danfeng (Daphne) Yao is a computer science professor at Virginia Tech, the Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. '56 Faculty Fellow, and a CACI Faculty Fellow.