Zhe Liu, postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization in the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, received the 2016 FNR Outstanding PhD Thesis award for his research on the security of wireless sensor networks (WSNs). The FNR Awards recognize outstanding researchers and science communicators for excellence in research and science communication.
“This award exemplifies the calibre of research by postdoctoral fellows and students at IQC,” said Michele Mosca, Liu’s IQC co-supervisor, and IQC co-founder and faculty member.
Liu’s thesis, Lightweight Public-Key Cryptography for Wireless Sensor Nodes, describes the design and implementation of three public-key cryptosystems and the underlying mathematical operations for resource-constrained sensor nodes, such as those used to detect traffic conditions in self-driving cars or to monitor vital body functions in patients.
The importance of this research will grow significantly in the coming years as the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves, using sensors to connect consumer electronics and household appliances to smart devices. Cryptography needs to be implemented on all of these devices to protect our electronic information.
Liu earned his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Luxembourg and joined the University of Waterloo as a postdoctoral fellow with the departments of electrical engineering and combinatorics and optimization in November 2015, and IQC in May 2016. His research has shifted to focus on the implementation of post-quantum cryptosystems on various platforms, including normal and advanced RISC machine (ARM) processors and the geographic precision unit (GPU). Liu has plans to lead his own research group in the future.
“Researching cryptography at a world-class institution like IQC at the University of Waterloo is a valuable experience. There are top researchers here from around the world,” said Liu. “From a mathematical perspective, whenever I encounter a problem, there is always someone here to help solve it. I appreciate the opportunity that my supervisors, Michele Mosca and David Jao, have given me.”