08:54 AM

UHD Researcher Awarded More Than $46,000 from Department of Homeland Security

Grant to Support Study on Security for Internet of Things


By Mike Emery

Dr. Shengli Yuan

The Internet of Things (IoT) has increasingly become a part of our daily lives. This intricate network of technologies connects smart devices (such as video doorbells, virtual assistants, speakers, appliances and more) to the Internet. As more users depend on smart technology, IoT continues to collect security sensitive data. So, what happens if the IoT becomes compromised by hackers or other threats? 

We may not want to discover the answer to that question, but fortunately, researchers at the University of Houston-Downtown and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign are working to help prevent IoT security breaches. This year, they will collaborate on identifying enhanced security solutions for the IoT and supported devices. 

This work is supported by a grant recently awarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). Dr. Shengli Yuan, UHD Professor of Computer Science, received just over $46,000 to support the DHS S&T Summer Research Team Follow-on project “Improving Routing Security and Reliability in Large and Dense IoT Networks.” 

For this project, he has enlisted the support of UHD undergraduate student Beatrice Cedar. 

According to Yuan, this research is particularly important as the IoT and smart devices continue to impact our day-to-day lives. 

“It is estimated that that there will be between 70 and 80 billion smart devices worldwide in the near future,” he said. “And most individuals will come across between 10 and 20 smart devices in their personal lives. Security is very important as we continue to depend on this technology.” 

Yuan is among nine faculty members from S&T’s Office of University Programs Minority Serving Institutions Program to receive research funding. The grant is particularly significant for UHD, he said. Not only does it recognize research being led at UHD, but it supports the growth of underrepresented students in STEM disciplines. 

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive this grant,” Yuan said. “It also is an honor to work with researchers from the University of Illinois-Urban Champaign. They are one of the top research institutions for computer science. For UHD, this represents an excellent opportunity to involve our students in a major research project.” 

Yuan is among many UHD faculty members mentoring undergraduate students and providing them with high impact research and learning opportunities. In addition to offering rich experiences that can be transferred to professional careers or graduate studies, projects such as this one also further engage students’ interest in research and STEM. 

“Undergraduate research is very important for our students and for STEM, in general,” he said. “It is important that we continue to identify projects that support the growth of our students and prepare them for careers as scientists and researchers. It truly makes a difference in our students’ lives.” 


About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) – the second-largest university in Houston – has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.