Two cybersecurity students named 2021 Gerald M. Masson Fellows

August 3, 2021

Sara Catherine Weill abroad in Scotland

Sara Catherine Weill ’21 and Jonathan Prokos have been named 2021 Gerald M. Masson Fellows. Established in 2018 to honor the Department of Computer Science’s inaugural chair and founding director of the JHU Information Security Institute, these fellowships aim to encourage computer science undergraduates who have been accepted into The Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Program to spend at least one semester pursuing graduate research as part of their MSE program.

Weill says she is grateful for the help the fellowship will provide in supporting her research in healthcare engineering.

Next fall, she will work with advisor Avi Rubin, professor of computer science and technical director of the JHU Information Security Institute, and Therese Canares, assistant professor of pediatric emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, to develop a line of telehealth products to assist in at-home diagnosis of common illnesses such as strep throat and ear infections using novel machine learning technology.

“Cybersecurity is so important in products like these that handle sensitive patient health information and other personally identifiable information,” said Weill, who currently is interning remotely with the Information Security team at Apple.

“It’s been great to apply my security knowledge from the classroom into real-life problems that impact businesses and customers. This internship helped me to understand the importance of my work as a security professional,” said Weill.

In addition to the fellowship, Weill has also received the William H. Huggins Award, presented annually to students in Electrical and Computer Engineering for outstanding scholarship and service to the department and their fellow students; and the Computer Science Special Service Award, presented annually to students who have done outstanding work to benefit the Department of Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University, and the community.

Weill plans to graduate with her MSE degree in May 2022.

Jonathan Prokos

Prokos says the fellowship will help further his research efforts while completing his MSE degree. “It will help me better prepare for the for the future hurdles I may face,” he said.

Prokos’ interest in cybersecurity begin early in his academic career at Hopkins, thanks to a class taught by Donniell E. Fishkind, associate research professor and the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics.

“I was introduced to cybersecurity through cryptography when I took Professor Fishkind’s cryptology and coding class. I am not sure what I found interesting about cryptography, but I decided to take more classes and found all of the problems that cybersecurity presents are very fascinating,” he said.

Prokos’ research interests are applied cryptography and machine learning. He is advised by Matthew Green, associate professor of computer science and assistant professor in the Information Security Institute. This summer, Prokos is interning remotely at Harbor Labs, a medical device security consulting firm. His expected graduation date is May 2022.

The Gerald M. Masson Fellowship provide awardees enrolled full time with a 25% tuition waiver for the semester in which they are conducting graduate research.

To learn more about The Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Program, click here. To learn more about the Gerald M. Masson Fellowship, click here.

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