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Meet Dr. Das, Cybersecurity expert joins the Computer Science department

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Ritchie School Communications Team

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Want to read along? Read the transcript below. 


Hi everyone, my name is Sanchari Das and I'm an assistant professor in the tenure track position at the University of Denver, Ritchie School of Engineering & Computer Science.

So I am originally from India and I did my bachelor's as well as my master’s back at home from Kolkata, India. Thereafter, I came to the U.S. in 2016 for my PhD and I also did my Master’s in Security Informatics along the way. Alongside I have also been involved in several industrial organizations in several capacities. I was a software engineer back at home for different organizations. Thereafter, here I was a security engineer for a financial tech organization. And along with being in academia, I'm also a global privacy advisor, as well as UX security consultant for two different organizations. So professionally, it has been an immense journey, and personally as well as I discover myself and learn new things every single day.

So my research is very interdisciplinary, where I add the components of user privacy and data security. But in addition to that, I also focus on the user side, what are the security perspective from there and what are their mental models, what are their risk perceptions, their cognitive aspects as well as the cultural aspect which is a bit understudied, but definitely a focus nowadays. And I also look into New Age technologies such as AR/VR, which is augmented and virtual reality Internet of Things, smart technology, any device which is digitally connected. So as to we adhere to the privacy perceptions what the users need and create a safe digital environment for them.

When I have to give advice to any of my undergraduate or graduate students, I kind of refer back to my own experience. I did not come from research background I came from the computer application background, right. So I was looking into how these technologies can be applied and not looking to the research aspect. However, when I was given okay, this is the requirement to develop a website, this is the requirement to develop a software, I always ask the question why we are not asking the users what they want, right. So that is when I started learning and researching more about it. And I thought that nobody has done that. So I probably am inventing this field. But usable privacy and security or the human centered aspect is there for decades now. And that is what I learned by approaching the professor's by learning about their work. There is immense opportunities out there, I have found many professors who are very approachable. And they would love to talk about their research. So talk to the professors. Do your internet search, do your due diligence, get involved with the work with the questions you want to answer—whatever field you choose, it depends on you. But I think it is critical to look into these aspects so as to make your work more holistic and wholesome, so that you can help the users, you can help anybody from your own knowledge and expertise.

When I got the opportunity to be a part of University of Denver, I was definitely very excited. And yes, of course when you hear about University of Denver, Colorado, the beautiful landscape and the place comes to the mind. But in addition to that, because probably I never visited Colorado before and during my job hunting time, during COVID I think that was not that much of a factor. But what was a factor was something which is very close to what I believe in and I am a strong advocate for that is inclusivity. And not from like, okay, you want the work area to be but how you want to incorporate diversity inclusivity in your research, in your teaching and so on. In addition to that, talking from the program, as well as the technical perspective, University of Denver has like a very enriched cybersecurity program. The computer science department is very well known for its research as well as teaching, as well as the cybersecurity program which the professors here have developed is very rich. And I got the flexibility to add the human aspects, the human component aspect, to this research area to cybersecurity. So I felt that this is an opportunity for me to create a whole kind of a wholesome and holistic cybersecurity program, in addition to which is already there. So the flexibility in work, the inclusivity where we can learn, we can co-learn and help the students and build great programs together as well as be a part of this very great university. I think all of these kind of made me decide University of Denver.

And in addition to cybersecurity as well, I mentioned that I'm an interdisciplinary researcher, right. So there is so much of rich work in the field of robotics, in the field of mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, AI in the University of Denver. I feel that we can collaborate together and have good research work as well as teaching experience. That's why I'm excited to be part of University of Denver, and it has been immensely good and welcoming to me amidst this challenging situation, of course.