NSF CAREER Awardee, Prof. Romeil Sandhu, Applies Mathematics to Improve Security and Reliability of Complex Networks


Professor Romeil Sandhu, an affiliated faculty member of the (CS) and assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Informatics (BMI), has earned a 2018 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award. Sandhu received the $500,000 award for his project: Network Geometry for Analyzing Dynamical Systems.

Sandhu is the fourth new CAREER awardee this year for the CS department which over time has seen its faculty earn over 25 CAREER awards.

Focused on how we study and develop reliable communication and social systems that are robust to potential attack, his work could help to make these systems better able to combat these types of intrusions and extends well beyond such systems to areas in cancer biology, finance, and air traffic control. As he explains it, “we are interested in developing the underlying mathematical tools in hopes that it can be readily applied, through collaborators, to varying fields.”

As Sandhu details, “The thematic vision for this program is based on my previous work in which we showed that the concept of curvature, a measure of an object’s ‘flatness,’ is related to how a system is able to handle random disturbances,” he said. “We see curvature in everyday objects from your coffee cup to computer screen, but curvature is also a hidden feature that characterizes the functionality of a network. In this research, we seek to develop techniques to ‘control curvature’ and apply geometry in general such that we can make existing systems more secure and reliable.”

In addition to the proposed research, the NSF CAREER award will fund working with the Institute for STEM Education (I-STEM) to involve dependents of U.S. Veterans who are in high school. “I am truly grateful that NSF recognized not only the merits of the research, but also provided the opportunity to develop an educational outreach for vet dependents — an issue close to my heart. Being raised in the military community of Huntsville, AL, I have always felt indebted to give back to those who serve our country. Providing guidance and opportunities to children who often have a parent deployed overseas is the least we can do for a segment of society that has sacrificed so much. Our ultimate goal is to build a self-sustaining program.”

“The NSF CAREER award is a milestone achievement and the most prestigious recognition that can be bestowed by NSF for junior faculty,” said Joel Saltz, MD, Cherith Professor and Founding Chair of BMI which is jointly administered by and ,  “On the heels of a prestigious honor from the AFOSR [Air Force Office of Scientific Research], Rome’s research is a great example of the kind of visionary work being done in our department and at Stony Brook as a whole.”

Professor Sandhu, who is also affiliated with the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, joined Stony Brook in fall 2016. His research focuses on topics ranging from vision, controls, networks, and learning with a particular interest in the fusion of autonomous systems toward “non-expert” operators who possess expert knowledge.