Computer science Associate Professor Daphne (Danfeng) Yao has been recognized for her contributions to scientific computing in cybersecurity. 

Yao is one of 49 Distinguished Members of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) being recognized for outstanding contributions to the field of computer science. The 2018 Distinguished Members are exemplars for their peers and represent ACM’s worldwide geographic reach, as well as the exciting range of subdisciplines that constitute today’s technology landscape.

“This recognition is a huge validation of years of fundamental cybersecurity research efforts undertaken by my students and me. My work on methodology development may not appear that sexy, but it is crucial for advancing the science of security,” said Yao, who is both an Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. '56 Faculty and CACI Fellow. “Coming from a theoretic background and now working on real-world software and system security problems, I see myself uniquely positioned to make contributions to the field that draw on the combination of theory and practice.”

The 2018 ACM Distinguished Members being honored work at leading universities, corporations, and research institutions around the world. Countries represented include Australia, Canada, Chile, China, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The 2018 innovators have made contributions in a wide range of technical areas, including algorithms, artificial intelligence, computer architecture, computer science education, cybersecurity, graphics, human-computer interaction, and networking.

"By honoring these individuals, we highlight the professional achievements behind the technologies that have transformed both our daily lives and society in general,” said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake in a press release. “These computing leaders really epitomize ACM’s mission of ‘advancing computing as a science and a profession.’ "

Yao has been faculty in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering since 2010. Her high-impact security findings on ultra-precision program anomaly detection and patented network causal graphs discovery technology were published in top ACM conferences, such as CCS and ASIACCS. She has served on numerous ACM technical program committees. 

She received her doctoral degree in computer science from Brown University; two master's degrees in chemistry and computer science from Princeton University and the University of Indiana at Bloomington respectively; and a bachelor's in chemistry from Peking University in China.

Since 2017, Yao has served on the executive committee of the ACM Special Interest Group on Security, Audit, and Control, overseeing the four ACM conferences on cybersecurity research. She is also on the editorial board of a new ACM journal Digital Threats: Research and Practice.

The Association for Computing Machinery has more than 100,000 members from more than 190 countries. It is the world’s largest computing society. 

Written by Amy Loeffler