Story

New Computer Science Professor Elaine Shi Named Packard Fellow

By Krishna Ramanujan

Elaine Runting Shi, associate professor of computer science, has won a 2015 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering for her work that blends cryptography, programming languages, and secure hardware and software systems.

The award from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation includes $875,000 over five years for research.

Each year, the foundation invites the presidents of 50 universities to nominate two early-career professors in science and engineering disciplines from their institutions, and an advisory panel selects the fellows.

In her research, Shi designs new programming paradigms that enable nonspecialist developers to easily program cryptography. This is important as privacy concerns often hinder the sharing, usage and monetization of sensitive data. At the same time, programming cryptography is difficult and error-prone, even for experts, let alone everyday developers, Shi said.

“I am grateful to the Packard foundation for this generous award. This will provide the crucial support for me to explore the big research ideas that I am excited about,” she said.

A new member of the Cornell faculty this year, Shi earned her doctorate from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. She has received a Sloan Research Fellowship (2014), two Google Research Awards (2013 and 2014), and a National Security Agency Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper award (2013), among other distinctions.

The Packard fellowships, one of the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, are designed to “allow the nation’s most promising professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements,” according to the foundation’s website.