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Kunal Garg: Postdoctoral Scholar

Degree Program: Electrical and Computer Engineering

Graduate Institution: University of Michigan, Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Institution: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Aerospace Engineering, B.S.

Advisor: Alvaro Cardenas and Ricardo Sanfelice

“One of the things that attracted me to Baskin Engineering was the opportunity to do an interdisciplinary project that blends the topics of security of cyber physical systems and control theory.”

Kunal Garg joined the Baskin School of Engineering as a postdoctoral scholar in May 2021. Garg is currently working on a cross-disciplinary research project under the mentorship of Alvaro Cardenas, associate professor of computer science and engineering, and Ricardo Sanfelice, professor of electrical and computer engineering. The aim of the research project is to develop cyber physical systems that are better equipped at preventing cyber attacks.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your path to Baskin Engineering.

I’m originally from India. I did my undergraduate studies in India at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. I came to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. I completed my program this April. Wanting to pursue a career in academia as a professor, I thought it would be a good idea to take a postdoctoral scholar position. I found an opening at Baskin Engineering under the Computer Science and Engineering Department and Electrical and Computer Engineering Department with Professors Alvaro Cardenas and Ricardo Sanfelice. After meeting with them and discussing the project and my background, I accepted the position.

Why did you choose the Baskin School of Engineering to do your postdoctoral work?

One of the things that attracted me to Baskin Engineering was the opportunity to do an interdisciplinary project that blends the topics of security of cyber physical systems and control theory. My Ph.D. focused on control theory. I didn’t have much exposure to security from the lens of computer science, so I thought it would be a good learning opportunity, and it’s a very hot topic at this time. Other things that drew me to Baskin Engineering was the proximity of the school to the Bay Area and having family that live nearby.

Could you tell me more about the research project that you’re currently working on?

The project is cross-disciplinary and addresses how we can guarantee the security of cyber physical systems—any machine/system that is connected to the internet in some way. We want to design the system so it’s guaranteed to be secure, called secure by design, to increase resilience against cyber attacks.

How has your partnership with your faculty mentors and others in the research group you’re a part of strengthened your research efforts?

I’ve been here for two months. I’ve been grateful to get the opportunity to research on campus. I’m able to connect with graduate students and collaborate on projects. It’s nice to bounce ideas off of each other and resolve problems we are experiencing with our research projects.

I was told that you might be doing some outreach activities in collaboration with the Inclusive Excellence Hub.

Yes, I mentioned to Professor Cardenas that I would like to get more involved in outreach activities, especially in regards to diversity, equity, and inclusion, to better prepare me for a faculty position. He introduced me to Carmen Robinson [Director of Student Excellence, Engagement, and Inclusion at Baskin Engineering] to learn more about the programs and resources available at Baskin Engineering and ways to get involved. I signed up for the MESA Engineering Program and am in the process of getting assigned a mentee. I am also planning on being a part of seminar series that focus on engaging more underrepresented students in pursuing graduate programs in science and engineering.

Interview date: August 31, 2021

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