A few days back, when I logged into Facebook, it asked me if I wanted to make a video of the year gone by. That was the trigger for this blog. Just a peek at the year gone by… a collection of the #ProfGiri that I did this year, 2016. It has been one roller coaster ride!
Since it is about ProfGiri, let me begin with students, my lifeline, in every sense of the term. Students who took courses with me, both at the Undergraduate level and Masters have joined amazing institutes for their further studies, like Carnegie Mellon University (my alma mater), GaTech, UIUC, USC, ASU, and other brilliant places in the world. Some students also started working at places like Apple, GoPro, MasterCard as UX Designers, or moved from one place to another better avenue like Microsoft in the US, etc. Through the year, I was also able to host some bright students from outside IIITD, students came from IIT Guwahati, College of Engineering Guindy, NIT Trichy, IIIT Sri City, and other institutes from India.
Traveling for work and meeting IIITD alums is something I always enjoy doing; this year has been splendid in this regard. Looking back it looks like I have met many brilliant and successful alums around the world. My earlier blogs on meeting alums from Europe and alums from the US. I also got a chance to meet many other alums within different cities in the country. I graduated one PhD student Paridhi Jain this year, who is now working at Accenture Research. This year’s graduation at IIITD was a treat for me. It rained awards for students who have been working with me! Megha Arora received the chancellor’s award, Mansi Panwar & Shashank Gautham received the award for best BTP thesis, and Sarthak Ahuja received the Best All-Rounder Student award. I couldn’t have asked for more. An exciting period in the year is when admits from graduate schools around the world start coming in. That’s when I know where all my bright students are headed for higher studies. I had written a blog “This is Why I Love My Job: Students are the backbone of Faculty life!” just dedicated to all those students who have made me and my institute proud. Most of these students and other students living in the US and Europe usually back home for a winter break and so it is alum-visiting time around Christmas/New Year. This year we have already had 4 of our Alums come-by, many are scheduled in the next 2 – 3 weeks. Last but not the least, I had a good crop of research papers published / accepted this year; to name a few venues, CHI 2017 (camera ready version getting prepared), CSCW 2017 paper, BHCI 2016 paper, SocInfo 2016, etc. Rest of the papers can be seen from our publications page.
Another integral part of #ProfGiri is Teaching. The Privacy and Security in Online Social Media course that I taught on NPTEL had 5,250 students signed up. It was a very different experience, my blog on the experience. At IIITD, I taught Designing Human Centered Systems in Spring 2016. It was highly appreciated by the students, which reflected in the course feedback. A big thankyou to all those students. The course always ends with a Building Better Interface (BBI). This year’s edition of BBI was particularly a grand success with a variety of projects and students displaying their creative front to the best. The Foundation to Computer Security course in Fall 2016 also received high rating from the students. It is probably not just about high rating, this feedback is a healthy platform where students can communicate what was good and what went wrong in a course. It gives a sense of satisfaction and creates motivation for a faculty to improvise on the course content and delivery mechanism.
ProfGiri does not end at IIITD, I do it outside too. This year I was invited to some prestigious institutes in and outside the country to give talks and lectures on various topics associated with my research. Some Indian academic institutes I visited this year were, IIIT Hyderabad, IIT KGP, IIT Guwahati and, LNMIIT. I visited The Berkman Center for Internet Safety at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), GaTech, Northeastern University (NEU) in Boston, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County in a span of one week. It was one of kind US visit, full of talks and, meeting alums in multiple cities. It was in this trip that I met my advisor after seven long years! It was really nice to relive some old memories and update each other on current activities. In the Europe, I visited ETH Zurich, GESIS Cologne, Germany and, Bern Switzerland for an APWG workshop. I also visited Singapore to give a talk in a workshop, and visited NUS; thanks to my alums who are in these places, who spend time with me when I am visiting their city / campus. This is definitely a high point of profgiri! One continent I hadn’t visited until this year was Australia, a week-long visit to University of New South Wales (UNSW) gave me an opportunity to see that part of the world too. I met some very accomplished faculty and hardworking students there. I also had the opportunity this year to be part of the Microsoft Faculty Summit in Pune. Another major highlight of this year was the TEDx talk. I was invited to give a TEDx talk by TEDx Juhu, Mumbai. I am not sure of how the talk went or if I enjoyed the whole process but it definitely was an amazing experience.
This year was one of the best years for research funds that I have raised as a faculty, I received 1,68,70,000 INR from Government of India and some other funds from different industry organizations. This year was also exciting for two very different reasons, one I got added to the ACM Distinguished Speakers of the world, and got an offer to be an Affiliate Faculty at IIIT Hyderabad (I have spent 2003 / 2004 also at IIITH, so it was a different feeling!).
This year was very productive in terms of kick starting interesting projects, some ideas getting translated into technology, used by several users and appreciated by the media.
- KillFie – was the most talked about project that I have had in the recent years. I had written a blog just about our experience with news media. Never had any of my project garnered so much media attention. There were many friends of mine who got to know it themselves on different media and did not know that I was part of the team doing this work, and were surprised when they got to know it. Among many others (100+ popular venues), this work was on MIT Tech Review, front page of Economic Times in all editions in India, front page of Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Home page news of CMU & IIIT Delhi, many Radio channels and some TV channels. Stay tuned for the app that we are building! Paper can be found here. Below is an image which captures the different new media services where KillFie was covered, and the languages in which it was covered.
- News Bugle, a Free basics news RSS feed app. This is an RSS aggregator service that gives a live update of news from top sources under different categories. This has about 800+ active users every day.
- Google Chrome Spying Extensions. We analysed 43,000 browser extensions, and found 218 spying users’ sensitive information and sharing it to the creator of the extension. Anu’s blog on the results & Paper.
- Helix – We developed this tool to help identify the tag in an image uploaded on Facebook. Chrome extension & Firefox extension.
An annual event I have been conducting for the past four years is the Security and Privacy Symposium. This year’s edition was held at IIITD campus and was attended by 160+ people, including students, faculty, government and industry. Pictures from the event.
To conclude, I can definitely say I had a very satisfying year, lots of lessons learned, lots of brick walls faced, many scaled, some in progress … Hope to continue #ProfGiri in the coming year and many more years to come 🙂