UTD’s Dr. Youtao Zhang Wins Prestigious
Career Award from National Science Foundation

$400,000 Grant to Fund Professor’s Research in Computer Security

RICHARDSON , Texas (Jan. 26, 2005) – Dr. Youtao Zhang, assistant professor of computer science at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), has been named a winner of the Career Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the organization’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members. An accompanying five-year, $400,000 grant will fund a research project by Zhang to design and build more secure computer systems.

“Due to the growing threat of computer attacks, building secure computing environments has become one of the nation’s highest priorities,” said Zhang. “Thanks to NSF’s generous funding, we at UTD can proceed with research into a new computer architecture that potentially provides more advanced, more effective security.”

Photo, Youtao Zhang
Dr. Youyao Zhang has been named
a winner of the Career Award from the
National Science Foundation, which
will provide a $400,00 grant.

According to Zhang, in the current computing model a software program is run on an operating system, which is tied to a central processing unit, or CPU, providing potential hackers numerous avenues of entry into computer systems and making the ability to defend against all possible attacks “technically and practically almost impossible.” Zhang proposes a new model in which highly secure software applications he will develop under the NSF project will be run directly on dedicated, secure CPUs called “trusted processors,” now being developed by Zhang and researchers elsewhere.

The result, he said, should be a computing environment with enhanced security, able to safeguard information of all kinds, ranging from credit card and personal information to proprietary software codes for video games.

Zhang joined the faculty of UTD’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science in 2002, after receiving a Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of Arizona. He earned an M.Eng. degree and a B.S. degree, both in computer science, from Nanjing Universiy in China.

In addition to performing research, Zhang teaches classes at UTD in operating systems and compiler construction.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. The agency established the career award program in 1995 to assist top-performing scientists and engineers early in their careers develop simultaneously their contributions and commitment to research and education.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls more than 14,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at www.utdallas.edu.