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Sinjoni Mukhopadhyay: Graduate Student

Computer Science and Engineering
Degree Program: 
Ph.D., Computer Science and Engineering
Kolkata, India
Undergraduate Institution: 
Symbiosis International University
Darrell Long and Ethan Miller
Graduate Student Sinjoni Mukhopadhyay

Sinjoni Mukhopadhyay is a doctoral student in the Storage Systems Research Center. For our final Cyber Security Month profile, she spoke with us about a project she worked on to securely store archival data, as well as her current research, her lab, and why it is important to her to be a woman in computer science.

How did you first become interested in computer science?

I have actually always been interested in computer science. I am from India, where I did my undergrad, and we have an option between biology and computer science very early on, so I started coding when I was in fifth grade.

Can you tell us a little about your Masters work on storage security? 

I work at the Storage System Research Center and so we mainly work with storage, and my project was with archival storage. Archival data can be a lot of different kinds of data. It can be videos, photos and things that people might want to reconstruct at some point. For companies it could be a lot of business history that they might want to look at later in the life of the company. We want to have all this data secure, and storing it "as is" is not safe because anyone can break into your storage system and then find it, so what you ideally want to do is break it into chunks and store it in different parts in different servers… Then you can just bring them back when you need them, read them, and split them again and distribute them when you don’t require them. 

What is your current research project? 

My current research is actually generating synthetic workloads for storage systems, but eventually we want to branch out so this research can be used by databases and the gaming community and all of the different industries. The main idea is to be able to use generative adversarial networks (GANS), which can mimic any distribution, to stimulate the user environment so companies can potentially test their systems using those workloads before sending them to customers.

What do you like about working in the SSRC lab at UCSC? 

I love the fact that they will encourage you no matter what you want to research on. We have some really heated arguments in our lab, about not just research, but just people’s general views. They are really open to listening, and not just listening but also discussing, and they won’t put you down if your ideas don’t match theirs. There is a lot of healthy discussion going on all the time, even during lunch breaks. We started something called Tea Time, which is more time for us to just battle out our ideas, and I really like that about my lab. 

What has been one of your favorite moments at UCSC? 

Actually, it was my first quarter here when Ethan Miller first showed me around the lab, because he was really trying to sell the lab to me, and I was brand new... He was going on about all the perks of the lab and how great it is to be a woman in computing, and it was really exciting for me. I keep remembering that whenever I feel that I am done with the PhD program, that keeps me going, the end goal of what it would be to be a woman in computing, that is an exciting memory for me.

What does being a woman in computer science mean to you?

This is an extremely important topic to me because I feel like there are just not enough women out there. For some reason I think some women think that computer science is too difficult for them, and that is why they do not get into the field, but I do not agree with that at all. I think it is really easy once you like it and are passionate about it and I think more women should go into it. I am sure there are lots of smart women whose ideas we could benefit from having in industry. I went to CERN and I was the only woman in the team of 25 people there! I think it would be nice to have more women. 

What is your dream career?

I actually want to work with Facebook… specifically because they have a team that works very closely with different applications of GANS, which I am not even close to done exploring.  I am working with GANS for workload characterization, but I want to work with maybe using them to secure the Internet of Things (IoT). I wrote a book chapter on that, and so I would very much like to pursue that once I graduate. The Internet of Things encompases any device that is exchanging data via the internet, like a Fitbit or phone. The problem with using IoT devices is that it is one single point of failure. You connect to the network on which my Fitbit is connected and you have all my personal information… so how do we protect that from happening? That is something that I would like to look more deeply into, specifically with respect to medical devices. I interned at IBM Almaden Research Center last summer and I worked a little bit on applying my Master’s project to IoT medical devices, but it was just three months and there is a lot of research to be done there.