Assoc. Prof. Bo Chen and Doctoral Student Niusen Chen Receive Bhakta Rath Research Award

Bo Chen (left) and Niusen Chen, CS

Associate Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science, and doctoral student Niusen Chen, Computer Science, have been awarded the Michigan Tech Bhakta Rath Research Award.

The Bhakta Rath Research Award, established in 2010 by an endowment from Dr. Bhakta B. Rath ’58 and his wife, Sushama Rath, promotes and rewards excellence in scientific and engineering research in the field of physical and natural sciences and engineering. The award recognizes those who conduct exceptional scientific and technological research in anticipation of the future needs of the nation while supporting potential advances in emerging technology, and will continue to apply this knowledge upon establishing a career within the U.S. or its territories.

For five years, Niusen Chen and Bo Chen have been working closely on building a unified framework which can ensure confidentiality of the sensitive data in main-stream mobile computing devices. They have published two peer-reviewed journal articles, 12 peer-reviewed conference papers, and two technical reports tackling several fundamental issues concerning the safeguarding of data confidentiality in mobile computing devices through their research.

Project Abstract

Nowadays, mobile computing devices have been widely used to store and process personally private or mission critical data. Ensuring confidentiality of the data in mobile devices is therefore of significant importance, as data leaks may not only endanger the device owners’ privacy, but also violate various retention regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. To ensure data confidentiality, we should well protect the data when they are stored in the mobile devices (i.e., confidentiality during the lifetime); and also, we need to irrecoverably delete them once they are out of date (e.g., confidentiality after the lifetime). Our work can fundamentally advance the research of mobile data security by leveraging both plausibly deniable encryption (PDE) and secure data deletion. Our research results can benefit billions of mobile users globally and, add a significant value to the national security efforts as well.


Niusen Chen and Bo Chen have created two distinct capabilities, specifically designed for mobile environments, in order to safeguard the confidentiality of sensitive data on mainstream mobile computing devices. These capabilities are the PDE system and the secure data deletion. Our designs are energy-efficient and suitable for low-power mobile computing devices. Furthermore, we have effectively tackled certain fundamental security issues that have previously been unaddressed in research. Their research enables mobile users to safeguard their personal data and also assists government agencies and military sectors in protecting their mission-critical data. Domestic and international researchers have also widely referenced our research on both the PDE system and the secure data deletion.