National awards fund student-faculty research in computer science

September 28, 2010

Lizzy McCaslin and Becky Putnam recently landed national computer science awards to support their faculty-student research project in information flow in networks and to travel to conferences. The collaboration required by the Computing Research Association (CRA) award will be nothing new to the juniors, who have been the best of friends since elementary school.

“We do everything together so it’s natural to do research together,” says McCaslin, explaining that they live two miles apart in Mt. Airy. “We did get the idea to come to McDaniel independent of each other though.”

The Urbana High graduates will also collaborate with Computer Science professors Sara Miner More and Pavel Naumov, whose research projects center on information flow in computer networks to be sure, but also in other multi-party systems from corporations to spy rings, from Facebook to genetics.

“It has to do with cryptographic protocols – determining the rules so that the good guys can talk but the information doesn’t fall into the bad guys hands,” says More, who recently presented the Mathematics and Computer Science department’s first peer-reviewed student-faculty joint research publication at a Toronto conference. The paper, “Independence and Functional Dependence Relations on Secrets,” was co-authored by More and Naumov with Rob Kelvey ’10 and Ben Sapp ’11.

McCaslin, a Math major, and Putnam, a Computer Science major, each will receive a $3,000 annual research stipend and share $3,000 for travel. The award is sponsored by the CRA’s Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research in conjunction with the Coalition to Diversify Computing and funded by the National Science Foundation. Nationally, Naumov says, only 14 percent of Computer Science majors are women.

With More and Naumov always within reach for questions, the students are currently busy catching up with their professors’ research so that they can move forward with research. And More and Naumov are working on an extended version of their paper “Hypergraphs of Multiparty Secrets,” by invitation from the organizers of the 11th International Workshop on Computational Logic in Multi-Agent Systems after Naumov presented their paper at the workshop in Lisbon.

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