Current Students

I have the honor of working with many talented students at Northeastern. I am currently advising several Phd and undergraduate students:

Former Students

In the past, I've worked with many talented undergraduates and masters students.

Christophe Leung
Undergraduate research co-op, 2016. Lead author of our study comparing privacy leaks across apps and websites. Co-advised with Dave Choffnes.
Gary Soeller
BS in CS, Northeastern, 2016. Lead author of our MapWatch study, currently pursuing a PhD in CS at UCSD.
Avanish Pathak
MSIA, Northeastern, 2014. "An analysis of various tools, methods and systems to generate fake accounts for social media".
Krati Kiyawat
MSIA, Northeastern, 2014. "Do Web Browsers Obey Best Practices When Validating Digital Certificates?".

Thesis Committees

I frequently serve on the committees for PhD students at Northeastern and at other universities.

Kaan Onarlioglu
PhD Candidate, Northeastern. "Retrofitting Privacy into Operating Systems", advised by Engin Kirda.
Yabing Liu
PhD Candidate, Northeastern. "Privacy in Online Social Networks: Measurement, Analysis, and Implications", advised by Alan Mislove.
Aniko (Ancsa) Hannak
PhD, Northeastern, 2016. "Personalization in Online Services Measurement, Analysis, and Implications", advised by Alan Mislove.
Piotr Sapieżyński
PhD, Technical University of Denmark, 2016. "From Raw Data to Social Systems", advised by Sune Lehman.

Prospective Students

Are you thinking of applying to grad school? Are you interested in auditing algorithms, personalization algorithms, and security and privacy on the Web? If so, then you should apply to Northeastern! Northeastern has world-class faculty in these areas and the PhD program is expanding rapidly.

Information for Prospective PhD Students

Applying to PhD programs is not like applying to undergraduate and masters programs. When choosing between undergraduate and masters programs, (arguably) what matters most is the reputation of the school; there are many institutions where you can get an equally good college-level education, so the best way for students to differentiate their degrees is to attend a highly competitive school. In contrast, the most important thing when selecting a PhD program is choosing your advisor, not choosing the school. PhD programs are more like jobs than school: you will spend the vast majority of your time creating new knowledge with your peers and advisor, not attending classes. Thus, as a PhD student, you want to choose an advisor who is working in an area you feel passionate about, because you will spend 5-6 years working closely with them.

I am always looking for creative, hard-working students to join my research group. The most important quality I look for in students is self-motivation: unlike a normal job where you are told what to do, as a PhD student you must be able to drive your own research agenda and blaze new trails. Being curious and creative are also critical skills for identifying novel research challenges and inventing solutions for them. In terms of technical skills, I expect students to be competent programmers, but you don't need to be a super-hacker to succeed as a PhD student. Finally, I feel that students should have a strong sense of social responsibility, since much of my work focuses on addressing societal issues like discrimination and censorship.

If you are interested in working with me, the best thing to do is to read several of my recent papers (those published within the last 2-3 years), and then write me a brief email explaining: 1) which papers you like and why, 2) why you want to get a PhD, and 3) what research problems you are interested in working on. I will not respond to emails that do not answer these questions; also, please understand that I receive a lot of unsolicited email from prospective students, so I may not be able to respond to all inquiries.

Keep in mind that my research focuses on measuring the Web, auditing algorithms, and security and privacy. If you aren't interested in those areas, then I am not the right advisor for you.

Lastly, prospective students should be aware of two general facts about PhD programs in the US. First, you do not need a Masters degree to be admitted to most PhD programs in the US, including Northeastern. Second, Computer Science PhD students at Northeastern (and most top research universities) are guaranteed funding for at least 5 years, so students do not need to fund their own studies.

Information for Undergraduate Students

I really enjoy conducting research with motivated undergraduate students. Undergraduates who work in our lab routinely publish papers at top conferences and go on to do PhDs at top schools. Plus, if you publish a paper you get to travel to the conference on our dime and present it, which often means going to fun places like Japan, Brazil, and Australia. If you're interested in research, feel free to shoot me an email or stop by my office; I'm happy to just chat about academic life, what grad school is like, and what it actually means to do research.

Additionally, note that Northeastern offers research co-op positions as an alternative to industry co-ops. These positions pay a competitive salary, and offer students who are considering grad school a great opportunity to see if research is the right fit for them. I have advised research co-op students in the past, and a plan to do so again in the future.

Information for Masters Students at Northeastern

If you are already enrolled as a Masters student at NEU, and you are interested in doing research with me, your best course of action is to take my class. Students who excel in class and actively participate have the best chance of working with me.

Masters Students Seeking Thesis Advisors

In general, I am open to advising Masters theses. However, before you approach me about becoming your advisor, you should take some time to 1) read some of my recent publications and understand my work, and 2) brainstorm some clear research ideas for your thesis. The first questions I am going to ask you are about your research ideas, and whether they are a good fit with my own research agenda, so be prepared to answer these questions.