Meet the Researcher: Dr. Priyanka Verma

Priyanka is a CONFIRM MSCA Smart 4.0 Research Fellow based at the University of Galway.

” I highly recommend you opt for cybersecurity as a career, as it has a plethora of opportunities and endless fields of application.”

Tell us a bit about your research...

In this fellowship, I am working on SECURE-ACT: Security Techniques Against Cyber Threats in Smart Manufacturing Industries project. This research gives new insights into the security of industrial IoT (Internet of Things) devices from the inherent cyber threat present in smart manufacturing. This project will also contribute to a more efficient and cost-effective solution for industries than they are using now with current technologies.

How could your research be applied in the real world?

I have always had concerns about the sustainability of technological advancement. A better place is not simply a community enjoying services and technology platforms. All benefits need to be supported by compelling mechanisms that protect the environment and nature. Hence, research aimed at decision-making in industrial environments under market uncertainties caused by wars and pandemics may also establish other equally important concerns. Uncertainty can also represent the interaction of the industry with other subsystems that aim to protect natural resources or to face some aspect of the climate crisis. Thus, the research I intend to develop can be used in the future to face world crises.

What did you study as an Undergraduate?

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) from RGPV, India. My childhood dream was to pursue engineering, and I was always curious about computers and associated fields, which is the main reason behind the selection of CSE Branch. I studied many subjects in the four years of my engineering undergaduate but my personal interests are: Cloud computing, Network Security, Data structures, Theory of Computation, and Compiler Design.

What made you decide to go into research?

I first came across computer security in secondary school while, during a lab session, the computer I was using became “hanged” (or unresponsive). I reported the incident to my computer teacher and, after checking the computer, he said that some virus had corrupted the system. So that is what sparked my curiosity – how a small, virtual virus could harm such a big physical machine. Therefore, during my postgrad, I chose to work on detecting network attacks for my final thesis. Furthermore, to broaden my horizons in security for emerging technologies, I choose to detect threats in a cloud environment for my PhD research. During my PhD research work, I came across cyber threats in smart manufacturing. This research area again opened up the thread in my mind about research on securing smart manufacturing against these threats.

What do you enjoy most about being a Resarch Fellow?

As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) SMART 4.0 Postdoctoral Fellow, I feel that every day I am inching towards my career goal. The main objective of this fellowship is to create industrial leaders. So far, I have experienced academic and industrial exposure under the guidance of two renowned academics, Prof. John Breslin from University of Galway & Prof. Donna O’Shea from MTU, Cork. As a hosting institute, I have had the chance to work in the University of Galway and I am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful campus and the cultural city of Galway. Working and interacting with colleagues from CONFIRM, and Insight (two SFI research centres) is also a great learning opportunity about different research problems and their innovative solutions.

Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about a career or research in STEM?

If you are a curious person and have many ideas sparking in your mind, you can definitely be a great STEM professional. Right now, so many opportunities are emerging in the field of cybersecurity in particular. Those students who want to pursue research work can also think about that direction. With consistency and hard work, you can achieve anything in your life!

Any other advice for people who might be interested in this field?

I highly recommend readers to opt for cybersecurity as a career, as it has a plethora of opportunities and endless fields of application. If you are looking for a graduate program, you should definitely one that has a cybersecurity module. Furthermore, you can also gain expertise in the cybersecurity domain through a Master’s program. I also recommend that you work with industry as much as possible to identify practical problems and complete more hands-on work. With the emergence of cloud technology in Industry 4.0 across the globe, there is a high demand for security experts with very handsome employment packages available! (another positive benefit that may motivate you to get into it and explore the world of cybersecurity!). Cybersecurity is not just an IT or business problem; it’s a global issue. The issue can be solved when the nation’s smart brains come forward and take it as their career challenge.

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