UMBC places 7th at Pan-Am Team Chess Championship

UMBC Chess finished seventh overall at the 2016 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, held in New Orleans, Louisiana, December 27–30.

The UMBC Chess A team finished in 10th place, with victories over the Texas Tech D team, the University of Oklahoma A team, the Columbia University B team, and the Arizona State University team. The UMBC Chess B team earned wins over the Texas Tech E team, and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities B team, and finished 45th overall.

UMBC’s 2016 A team includes international master Levan Bregadze ‘16, financial economics; grandmaster Tanguy Ringoir ‘19, economics; woman FIDE master Ewa Harazinska ’20, chemistry; and Maor Leker Locker ’20, biological sciences. The UMBC Chess B team includes Dobrynya Konoplev ‘18, computer science and mechanical engineering; Nathan Janus ’20, mathematics; Nathaniel Wong ‘18, Asian studies and political science; Abhilash Puranik ‘17, M.S. computer engineering; and Jeffrey Mich Carr ’19, interdisciplinary studies.

UMBC has participated in the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship for 26 years, and has won or tied for first place at the Pan-Am Championship ten times. UMBC Chess has also continued on to the President’s Cup—known as the Final Four of College Chess—numerous times, but did not qualify for 2017.

At the 2015 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, the UMBC Chess A team finished in 10th place, and the UMBC Chess B team finished 31st overall. Alan Sherman, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, serves as director for UMBC Chess and Joel DeWyer, interim director of The Commons, is business manager.

UMBC Chess made headlines earlier in 2016 when Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, information systems, an alumna of the team, won the 2016 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship held in St. Louis.

Reposted from UMBC News. Image: Members of the UMBC Chess A team before attending the 2016 Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship. Photo by Marlayna Demond ‘11 for UMBC.

In Hour of Code, UMBC students give Baltimore youth hands-on intro to computing careers

At one table, thirteen Lakeland Elementary/Middle School students from Baltimore used tablets to create patterns of colorful shapes through code. At another station, the students composed music and played games on laptops by completing circuits connected to bananas and celery.

The scene in UMBC’s Commons last Thursday was just what Gabrielle Salib ‘17, interdisciplinary studies, had hoped for. “Our world is quickly becoming more automated and by learning how to code, as President Obama has said, we ‘become the creators rather than just the consumers’ of our ever-growing tech society,” shared Salib. She is president of UMBC’s Computer Science Education student organization, which organized the event as part of the international Hour of Code movement

UMBC joined thousands of schools around the world in hosting Hour of Code events to celebrate Computer Science Education Week, drawing both UMBC students and younger area students to learn about circuits, coding, and computing through hands-on activities.

“Hour of Code events are a great way to gain visibility and awareness of the importance of CS for All,” said Marie desJardins, COEIT associate dean and professor of computer science, and faculty advisor of the Computer Science Education student organization. “It’s especially important to reach out to young women and minority students in their critical middle school years, and to connect them with peers and role models they can relate to.”

“The Hour of Code day is especially important for our Technovation Club because two days a week our girls spend two hours learning how to code and how to develop their own apps,” said Acacia Asbell, a project director for UMBC’s Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program who works closely with Lakeland Elementary School. “This event really reinforces how important coding is, and how they can have an impact on the world around them.”

The Lakeland Elementary School students were not the only ones to gain valuable experience from the event. “Our student volunteers also benefited by increasing their own confidence in their skills, connecting with other students and faculty, and knowing that they are making a difference in the world around them,” said desJardins.

Dr. Marie desJardins, President Freeman Hrabowski, and Gabrielle Salib ’17, interdisciplinary studies, working with Lakeland Elementary/Middle School students at the Hour of Code.Dr. Marie desJardins, President Freeman Hrabowski, and Gabrielle Salib ’17, interdisciplinary studies, working with Lakeland Elementary/Middle School students at the Hour of Code.

One major challenge with engaging young student in coding is the intimidation factor, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski told The Baltimore Sun, at the event. He noted that Hour of Code events give hands-on experience that removes that barrier and encourages young students to pursue college degrees and careers in technical fields.

For Salib, that hands-on experience is core to bringing home the point that anyone can code, and that coding can open doors to creative careers.“I had some students tell me that coding was much more fun than they thought it’d be,” she said. “That was precisely the purpose of our event: to show the UMBC community that they, too, can code!”

Read “City students get early exposure to computer careers at UMBC” in The Baltimore Sun.

Adapted from an article on UMBC News by Megan Hanks

Talk: Lexumo Continuous Open Source Code Security

 The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

Lexumo Tech Talk: Continuous Open Source Code Security

Dr. Richard T. Carback III
Lexumo, Inc.

11:15am Friday, 16 December 2016, ITE 237, UMBC

Lexumo is a startup which provides the only automated service that continuously monitors IoT software platforms for the latest public vulnerabilities. Funded in January of 2016 for $4.89M, NetworkWorld recently named Lexumo as a 2016 IoT Company to watch. Join us as UMBC alumnus and Lexumo co-founder Richard Carback discusses some of the hard problems and their technical approaches to monitor all the world’s open source software and assist companies in managing their vulnerabilities. The talk will be followed by an open Q&A session.

Richard T. Carback III is a UMBC Alumnus (CS PhD, 2010) and co-founder of Lexumo. Before Lexumo, Richard led the embedded systems security group at Charles Stark Draper Laboratories and was previously the Chief Scientist at Convergent Technologies, Inc. At UMBC, he worked with Alan Sherman on Scantegrity, a practical end-to-end voter verifiable election system.

Host: Alan T. Sherman ()

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab (CDL) meets biweekly Fridays 11:15am-12:30pm in ITE 229, for research talks about cybersecurity.

UMBC researchers collaborate with Army Research Laboratory to understand human variability

UMBC’s Mobile Pervasive and Sensor Systems Laboratory is collaborating with researchers at the Army Research Laboratory as part of their Center For Adaptive Soldier Technologies (CAST) laboratory. The UMBC group, led by Prof. Nilanjan Banerjee, is funded to work on the Human Variablility Project. The ARL described and motivates the project as follows.

“While it is understood that significant behavioral and performance variability within Soldiers exists, there is a clear knowledge gap with respect to quantifying and predicting the degree and dynamics of this variability. We posit that this critical scientific gap that has led to inflexible systems designed to mitigate against human variability by simplifying system operations and interfaces to be usable by operators performing at below-average levels. Alternatively, by understanding and predicting human variability across multiple time scales, we will enable adaptive system designs that are dynamic and capable of eliciting the full potential of the humans with which they interact.”

As part of this project, UMBC researchers are developing novel sensors and virtual reality environments to collect human behavioral and physiology data to study the variability of human states in immersive environments.

Prof. Marie desJardins elected a Member-at-large of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

UMBC CSEE Professor Marie desJardins was elected as a as Member-at-Large of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Professor desJardins will serve a four-year term as one of four AAAS members representing the field of Information, Computing, and Communication. AAAS members-at large are charged with assessing the performance and role of their section in the Association and working to involve its members in AAAS activities and professional interactions.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people. Established in 1848, the AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society, with more than 120,000 members.

Attacking and Defending the Automotive CAN Bus

MS Thesis Defense

Attacking and Defending the Automotive CAN Bus

Jackson Schmandt

12:30pm Thursday, 8 December, 2016, ITE 325b, UMBC

The scope and complexity of Automotive Computer Networks have grown drastically in the last decade. Once present only in high end vehicles, multi-use infotainment systems are now included in base models of some economy vehicles. Frequently connected to drivetrain components, these systems bring out multiple network access points, many of which are wireless. This unprecedented access has led to several high-profile exploits from both white-hat hackers and criminals. Although industry members are working toward long-term solutions, current systems suffer from inadequate protocol security and a lack of common-sense design practices. To address the security problem in the short term, this thesis describes a flexible Message Authentication Code that can be retrofitted with software only, as well as implementations on microcontrollers, an FPGA and an ASIC design. This work shows that on current embedded controllers, message authentication tags can be generated or verified in under 400 microseconds and in under 10 microseconds on a special-purpose ASIC.

Committee Members: Drs. Nilanjan Banerjee (chair), Alan Sherman (co-chair) and Anupam Joshi

UMBC cybersecurity instructor selected for prestigious Brookings Legis Congressional Fellows Program

Diana Parr, adjunct instructor in UMBC’s Cybersecurity Graduate Program, has been selected to participate in the highly competitive Brookings Legis Congressional Fellows Program. The year-long program allows professionals in the public and private sectors to work on Capitol Hill alongside individual members of the U.S. Congress or on a congressional committee to understand the policy-making side of government.

Diana Parr. “I am most excited about the opportunity to work for a member of Congress and to learn how the legislative process flows. It will be a huge time for change on Capitol Hill—a new president and many newly elected officials. I would like to bring my technical knowledge to the Hill as those new officials discuss legislation relating to cybersecurity,” she said.

In addition to her role at UMBC, Parr is a cybersecurity technical leader for the National Security Agency. She anticipates that her work in Congress will focus on cybersecurity education.

“There are many opportunities for new legislation this year to make our nation stronger and safer,” Parr said. “My biggest hope is to build awareness of the need to grow educational opportunities for young people, especially young women, in the growing field of cybersecurity.”

More information about the Brookings Legis Congressional Fellows Program can be found on the Brookings Institution website.

Republished from UMBC News, header image by Robert Lyle Bolton (CC by 2.0), headshot by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

Event: Wanted, One Million IT Security Specialists by 2018

Students, faculty, staff and community members are invited to join CWIT and  STEMRules for a lunch event to hear from and network with diverse professionals from across the cybersecurity industry.

Wanted: One Million IT Security Specialists by 2018

You Could be One of Them

12-1:30pm Friday, 2 December 2016
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery (1st floor)
Lunch will be provided

RSVP: Please respond by December 1, 2016

UMBC CWIT and STEMRules host cyber professionals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who will relate their personal/professional journeys, answer questions and be available for networking. Speakers  will include the following individuals:

  • Veda Woods  is an executive at an undisclosed Fortune 500 financial institution, a member of multiple boards and the executive director of the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals.
  • William McBorrough is a second-generation engineer is the founder and Managing Director of Washington, DC-based McGlobalTech and an information security and risk management consultant.
  • Pamela E. Carbajal is a Cyber Security Compliance and Policy Analyst, Senior Consultant, at Booz Allen Hamilton, a global management and technology consulting and engineering services firm.
  • Mahalakshmi “Maha” Venkataraman is a Senior Manager in the Software Engineering unit, and the technology lead for the anti-money laundering investigation team at Capital One, a major bank holding company.
  • Lisa Jiggetts is the founder of the Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women to succeed in the cybersecurity field. She is a also a freelance mobile security consultant.



talk: Genetic ancestry predicts striatal dopamine D2 receptors, 1pm Dec 2, ITE229

UMBC CSEE Seminar Series

Genetic ancestry predicts striatal dopamine D2 receptors

Dr. Corinde Wiers
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, MD

1-2pm Friday, 2 December 2016, ITE 229, UMBC

Genetic ancestry was recently found to be associated with cortical geometry, cortical surface, and total brain volume in humans. Despite ethnic differences in allele frequency in dopaminergic genes associated with dopamine D2/D3 receptor availability (D2R), no study to date has investigated the relationship between genetic ancestry and striatal D2R. Here, we show that genetic informative markers significantly predict dorsal striatal D2R in 117 healthy ethnically diverse residents of the New York metropolitan area using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with [11C]raclopride, while correcting for age, sex, BMI, education years, and estimated socioeconomic status based on individuals’ ZIP codes. Striatal D2R may thus be modulated by genetic ancestry, although differences in environmental factors between ethnic groups could mediate these effects. Findings may have implications for pharmacological treatment targeting D2R, such as antipsychotic D2R antagonists.

Corinde Wiers, PhD, is a Research Fellow at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in the Laboratory of Neuroimaging of Nora D. Volkow, M.D. After her studies in Psychology and Psychobiology at the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Sussex University (UK) in 2010, she completed her PhD in Psychology at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain and Free University Berlin (Germany) in 2014, where she investigated neural underpinnings of automatic approach behavior to alcohol cues, and neural effects of behavioral trainings in patients with alcohol use disorder. The main goal of Dr. Wiers’ research is to understand cognitive, neurobiological and (epi)genetic processes involved in drug addiction, using functional MRI, PET, psychophysics and molecular techniques. She currently works on how peripheral epigenetic markers relate to brain functioning in drug addiction and other psychiatric disorders. Further research interests include the neurobiology of sleep, effects of sleep deprivation, comorbidities of sleep and substance use disorders, and how neuroimaging techniques can be of use for treatment in psychiatry.

Host: Tulay Adali

About the CSEE Seminar Series: The UMBC Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering presents technical talks on current significant research projects of broad interest to the Department and the research community. Each talk is free and open to the public. We welcome your feedback and suggestions for future talks.

Organizers: Tulay Adali and Alan Sherman

talk: Dr. Phyllis Schneck (DHS) on The Need for Speed in Cybersecurity

Dr. Phyllis Schneck is the Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity & Communications with the Department of Homeland Security, where she is also the Chief Cybersecurity Official.

CHMPR Distinguished Lecturers Series

The Need for Speed

Dr. Phyllis A. Schneck

Deputy Under Secretary of Cybersecurity
Department of Homeland Security

3:30pm Thursday, 1 December 2016, UC 310
3:00pm Coffee, tea, and cookies

As computers get faster, they change the world. Processors get smaller, the number of devices with processors gets bigger, and the amount of information that can be produced and transported grows exponentially. Everything on the planet, unless one can eat it, is likely to have electronic logic within – and, most recently, to be connected to other devices. Our way of life and critical infrastructures, from power and water to finance is enabled by this ability to process light, and transport information at that speed. The speed of computing is enabling new conveniences and capabilities, and furthering science in directions never before imagined from DNA studies to particle physics. This amazingly connected world, however, introduces new vulnerabilities as many connected devices were not designed to be safe from unauthorized access and use. We must pay special attention to protecting infrastructure components such as information and the intricate signaling systems that generate and distribute electricity. This requires specialized algorithms to mine the masses of data to recognize normal internet activity from potential threat indicators. The goal is to create a more self-healing network, accomplishing with information what nature does with biological responses – creating an electronic immune system. Cognitive computing can provide groundbreaking results in data mining and analysis that will enhance the Cybersecurity to protect the other applications such as genomic and physics research. Software and hardware developers need to work together to create the algorithms and custom hardware to minimize heat, maximize computation and, finally, create a secure design.

We can use the speed of computing to enhance Cybersecurity as well – thus the paradox of the need for speed to protect itself.

Dr. Phyllis Schneck is the Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity & Communications with the Department of Homeland Security, where she is also the Chief Cybersecurity Official. Previously held positions include Chief Technology Officer for Global Public Sector, McAfee, Inc.; VP of Enterprise Services, eCommSecurity; and VP of Corporate Strategy for SecureWorks, Inc. Schneck earned her Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia Tech and pioneered the field of info security and security-based high-performance computing at Georgia Tech. She holds seven information security patents and has six research publications in the areas of info security, real-time systems, telecom and software engineering.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP to Michelle Bobovych at to ensure we have a sufficient number of chairs.

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