ATTN: Daniel Dubois, 202 WVH
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
- PhD, Politecnico di Milano – Milan, Italy
- MS, University of Illinois at Chicago
- MS, Politecnico di Milano – Milan, Italy
- BS, Politecnico di Milano – Milan, Italy
- Hometown: Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
What are the specific areas of your graduate education?
I obtained a PhD in Information Engineering at Politecnico di Milano (Italy) with a thesis titled “Self-organizing Methods and Models for Software Development” under the supervision of Professor Elisabetta Di Nitto. During my PhD I worked at IBM Haifa Research Lab (Israel) as an intern focusing on optimizing live Virtual Machines migrations. After obtaining my PhD, I worked as a post-doc at the MIT Media Lab and Imperial College London. At the MIT Media Lab, I worked on a decentralized content sharing platform for mobile devices called ShAir. At Imperial College, I led the SPANDO project (Self-organizing Performance Prediction and Optimization for Large-scale Systems) working on optimizing the trade-off between cost and performance to deploy cloud applications. Now I am working on the ReCon project at Northeastern University under the supervision of Professor David Choffnes focusing on understanding privacy concerns of smart devices and the Internet of Things.
What are your research interests?
I am really interested in several fields of computer science, including privacy, Internet of Things, mobile computing, cloud computing, self-adaptive systems, software engineering, performance engineering, and gamification. My background has roots in the software engineering area, with particular reference to decentralized and self-adaptive software architectures. My early research had the goal of solving optimization problems in distributed systems by using algorithms inspired by the natural world. As my work matured, I applied my knowledge to different areas and developed additional interests, such as privacy and the Internet of Things, which are the ones I am mainly focusing right now. My research interests have been heavily influenced by the rapid changes we are experience in the computer science world, and by the fact that I have always been driven by curiosity and the desire to make something that is current and that has an impact to our everyday lives.
What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?
While Internet of Things technology is becoming pervasive in everyday objects (e.g., home appliances, baby-monitors, etc.), our awareness of the sensitive information they get access to and use remains almost non-existent. In my work, I want to give people a means to: (1) understand what private information their devices are sharing with third parties; and (2) block any unwanted information sharing.
What aspect of what you do is most interesting?
Almost all of us spend a lot of time every day interacting with smart devices that are connected to the Internet (e.g., mobiles phones, tablets, etc.). Unfortunately, most people are unaware that the companies that develop the apps and the devices they use are also collecting a lot of personal information. Previous work has already surprised people by showing that an average phone is sharing its GPS location with third parties several times every hour. What I am doing now is to understand what other information is being shared, by what apps/devices , and what we can do to stop it.
What are your research or career goals, going forward?
I plan to become an innovator in a broad sense, not restricted to a single discipline or area. I might end up either in an academic or industry setting, but the mission should be the same: developing ideas, innovating, and doing something that addresses real world problems.
Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?
I grew up in Cagliari, in the beautiful island of Sardinia, which is a place that everyone should visit at least once while in Italy, especially in the summer. I got my first Internet connection when I was 13 years old with a 14.4Kbps modem, and that is when my passion started.
Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?
I studied for my undergraduate degree at Politecnico di Milano (Italy). The reason is that by the end of high school I was learning a lot about information technology by myself and it was time to consolidate and expand my knowledge. Unfortunately, at that time my hometown did not offer a full computer science program in its University, so I had to move to a larger city and it was one of the best choices I have ever made.