Mar 21, 2023

Cybersecurity Fellowship Recipients Raise Awareness of Privacy and Security Vulnerabilities

Sahar Rabiei and Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun have been awarded the 2022–23 Curtis B. Smith Cybersecurity Fellowship. The fellowship supports students enrolled in any degree program at the School of Information who have an interest in the field of cybersecurity or a research focus on cybersecurity.

Sahar Rabiei

Sahar Rabiei began the Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS) degree program in the fall of 2022 and is expected to complete the degree in December of 2023. Her education focuses on the intersection of cybersecurity and law. 

Before coming to Berkeley, Rabiei worked with various university, local, and federal organizations to research matters related to cybersecurity. 

In her earliest work, she collaborated with the U.S. State Department to examine the intersection between human rights and artificial intelligence, looking into countries’ ethical policies and inherent biases. Her subsequent work with the Naval Surface Warfare Center–Crane Division and the Department of Defense built on her policy research skills as she advised the Nuclear Matters Office on policies impacting access to and use of microelectronics in nuclear and space systems. “I am convinced the key to making progress on existing global issues,” Rabiei said, “lies at the nexus of utilizing technology, understanding social sciences, and prioritizing local impact on public institutions.”

“I am convinced the key to making progress on existing global issues lies at the nexus of utilizing technology, understanding social sciences, and prioritizing local impact on public institutions.”
— Sahar Rabiei

In the summer of 2022, she conducted research for Indiana University’s Cyber Defense Research Program on electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS), looking into how to identify failures such as targeted malware attacks and surveillance. These efforts have since reaffirmed her dedication to “analyzing potential security vulnerabilities of a system” and given her the opportunity to build upon her skills in leadership and collaboration. 

With this fellowship, “I aspire to continue this trend of academic distinction and excellence and to continuously push forward regardless of the obstacles in my path and with admiration of breaking the glass ceiling,” shares Rabiei. 

Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun

Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun is a second-year Master of Information Management and Systems (MIMS) student at the School of Information. His research primarily focuses on exploring usable privacy and the sharing of personally identifiable information (PII).

His interest in privacy predates the I School, when he had the opportunity to lead several GDPR and CCPA efforts such as developing an internal workflow for data deletion requests at a prior job. He eventually came to Berkeley, hoping to further his privacy engineering skills and build upon his foundations in law/policy. 

In fact, Juleemun gives the courses Information Law and Policy, Privacy Engineering, and Berkeley Law’s Consumer Protection Law credit for helping him articulate and shape his interests into two new research projects this past summer. 

One of these projects focuses on usable privacy on unstructured data — a concept involving rich but (mostly) untapped sources of information — and whether there are smarter ways for users to provide information in a privacy-preserving way. What he learned so far has been useful in his MIMS Final project to create an intelligent writing assistant that enables users to identify sensitive information they share. “Empowering and educating the user can be effective in mitigating cybersecurity risk,” Juleemun explained.  

“Empowering and educating the user can be effective in mitigating cybersecurity risk.”
— Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun

His second project looks at the application of law in terms of data collection and access with an emphasis on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Currently, he is part of a team researching mobile app privacy and compliance at the Berkeley Lab for Usable and Experimental Security (BLUES)

Since then, Juleemun has utilized his research interests in internships and volunteer opportunities, “rais[ing] awareness about the importance of data governance for the new generation.” At Alation this past summer, he created a course curriculum for data privacy and protection for universities using Alation’s flagship software. To do so, he authored ten articles about privacy frameworks and regulation and worked directly with two professors from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Wisconsin-Madison to educate eighty students in total.

By leveraging his leadership skills to increase public knowledge on usable privacy and data protection, Juleemun has made cybersecurity front of mind for many internet users and organizations alike. This fellowship, he says, will further help him achieve his goals and fuel his research interests.

headshot, Sahar, cafe
Sahar Rabiei
headshot, Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun, in front of I school
Akshay Dan Bhavish Juleemun (Photo by Brittany Hosea-Small for the School of Information)

Last updated:

March 21, 2023