Work of Graduate Students Showcased at Annual ISI Event

| April 2, 2019

Students win big at ISI’s 2019 Graduate Student Symposium.

A photo of ISI Graduate Student Symposium 2019 award winners

ISI Graduate Student Symposium 2019 award winners, pictured with Harkeerat Bedi (far right) from Verizon, the event’s sponsor.

The so-called dark and deep web, a portion of the hidden internet estimated to be up to 500 times bigger than the common internet, is known as a hub of illegal activities including cybercrime and terrorist activity. And with good reason—it is hard to access the deep and dark web, never mind police it.

But what if it was possible to observe nefarious activities on the deep and dark web to find valuable clues for anticipating and preventing cyberattacks and other potential crimes?

This is the question explored by USC computer science graduate students Nazgol Tavabi and Nathan Bartley, who are completing their PhDs at USC’s Information Sciences Institute.

The research, which will be published at the Web Conference 2019 in May, was one of 13 projects presented at the annual ISI Graduate Student Symposium on March 25. In addition, 11 students also presented posters of their work to their peers, ISI researchers and the broader USC community. Projects included denial-of-service attack detection, cryptocurrency manipulation detection and analysis of social bot behavior in the mid-term elections.

“It was encouraging to see the wide variety of domains and topics that were covered by the students through their presentations and posters, ranging from network security to the impact of social media on politics and cryptocurrency,” said Verizon Research Scientist and event keynote speaker Harkeerat Bedi.

“I feel such events are important as they encourage students to share their work with their peers, share ideas, and get inspired by others. It also gives us in the industry an insight on the interests of the researchers in academia.”

The event, which took place at ISI’s headquarters in Marina del Rey, is organized by students for students. Ashok Deb, a PhD student advised by Emilio Ferrara, who co-organized this year’s event said:

“The Graduate Student Symposium is an opportunity for us students to showcase our completed and work in progress with those outside of our immediate lab. It just takes one idea or one thought- provoking question to make all the effort worthwhile.”

At the close of the event, Verizon-sponsored awards were presented for the best papers, posters and presentations.

Best papers

  • Minh Pham & Craig Knoblock: “From Instances to Transformations: Minimizing User Effort”
  • Mehrnoosh Mirtaheri, Sami Abu-El Haija, Fred Morstatter, Greg Ver Steeg & Aram Galstyan: “Fraudulent Cryptocurrency Manipulations on Social Media”
  • Nazanin Alipourfard, Buddhika Nettasinghe, Andres Abeliuk, Vikram Kishnamurthy, Kristina Lerman: “Friendship Paradox Skews Perceptions of Popularity in Directed Networks”

Best posters

  • Ninareh Mehrabi, Fred Morstatter, Nanyun Peng & Aram Galstyan: “Debiasing Community Detection: The Importance of Lowly-Connected Nodes”

Ninareh Mehrabi: “The GSS is a great venue to get familiar with new or ongoing research that is done by other students. In addition, the feedback that students can get from presenting and submitting can help them to improve their work.”

  • Geoffrey Tran: “Resilient Real-time Performance in Stream Processing Systems”

“As a graduate student, it can be especially easy to get stuck under all the research and responsibilities. The GSS provides a great chance to network and see what everyone else is working on. “I feel that here we have a unique perspective and get the best of both worlds in being able to participate in academia while also getting a feel of how industry research is done.”

Best Presentation

  • Nicolaas Weideman: “Binary Analysis for Low-rate Denial of Service Attack Vulnerability Detection”

“An environment for graduate students to present their work and receive feedback from other graduate students and allows students to see what others are working on and discover potential collaboration opportunities, or research areas they might be interested in.”


The student organizers of the event: Rob Brekelmans, Ashok Deb, and Sivaramakrishnan Satyamangalam Ramanathan, and the faculty advisor, Srivatsan Ravi. Our generous sponsor Verizon. Joe Kemp, Kary Lau, Alba Regaldo, and Jeanine Yamazaki, who provided administrative support, arranged for food, and took care of behind-the-scenes technicalities.

Published on April 2nd, 2019

Last updated on May 16th, 2024

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