Following a national search, the Information Trust Institute has named Gabriel Weaver as its first-ever Herman M. Dieckamp Post-Doctoral Fellow. The fellowship, made possible through a gift from Illinois alum Herman Dieckamp, funds a researcher in the area of trustworthy systems, particularly those that protect critical infrastructure.
“ITI is committed to developing systems that are resilient, reliable, and secure, and this fellowship is helping us further our capabilities in developing tools in this critical area,” said David M. Nicol,
director of the Information Trust Institute and the Franklin W. Woeltge Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
. “Gabe brings a wealth of experience in the area of fail-safe systems and is a perfect choice to be the inaugural fellow.”
Weaver earned a bachelor’s degree in the classics and mathematics from College of the Holy Cross and a PhD in computer science from Dartmouth College. Previously, he interned at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory and served as a non-residential fellow at Harvard, where he designed an XML vocabulary to encode Ancient Greek Mathematical diagrams. He conducted a postdoc and more recently worked as a research scientist in Illinois' Information Trust Institute.
According to Nicol, fellows have flexibility in choosing the scope of their research. During Weaver’s tenure, work will focus on designing better ways to assess the safety and security of cyber-physical systems. The research will be conducted in conjunction with ongoing work funded through the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute (CIRI), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence at Illinois.
"The Dieckamp fellowship not only enables me to explore new theoretical approaches to evaluate cyber-physical systems’ security but to apply and evaluate such approaches in the context of critical infrastructure, which affect us on a daily basis,” Weaver said. “Mr. Dieckamp’s award not only enables me to pursue my intellectual passions in a world-class research environment, but to direct that passion in a manner that has the potential to serve others; as such, I am extremely honored and grateful for this opportunity."
In a 2013 interview with Illinois, Dieckamp said it was important that his gift fund research in trustworthy systems. The donor, a Jacksonville, Ill., native who attended Illinois in the late 1940s, served as chief operating office and president of General Public Utilities until his retirement in 1988. GPU (now merged with FirstEnergy) was the parent company of Metropolitan Edison, a utility that ran the nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island, the scene of an historic meltdown in 1979.
William H. Sanders, head of Illinois’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and an ITI researcher, worked with the donor to develop the fellowship guidelines and believes this position will honor his wishes.
“This fellowship gives the opportunity for the recipient to think more broadly and deeply and without the constraints of having short-term deliverables,” Sanders said. “It gives us the freedom to look at hard, complex problems in the area of fail-safe systems.”