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DSU researchers find success locally, nationally

March 15, 2018

Research Day 2018“High quality research opportunities are flourishing at both the graduate and undergraduate levels at Dakota State University,” said DSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Scott McKay.

Many of these projects are receiving recognition at national conferences, local events, and in peer-reviewed journals, such as the cyber security research conducted by three graduate students of Dr. Wayne Pauli. Charles Frank, Cory Nance, and Sam Jarocki were invited to present at the Cyber, Education, Research and Training Symposium (CERTS) in Augusta, Georgia in January.

CERTS is sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. The meeting hosted leaders from the Department of Defense, industry and academia to discuss the challenges, near-term requirements and emergent solutions to learn, operate and succeed in cyberspace. A paper on their project has also been accepted to the Journal of Information Systems Applied Research (JISAR).

An undergraduate research paper, authored by DSU junior Hope Juntunen and science faculty Dr. Michael Gaylor and Dr. Patrick Videau, was recently accepted in the Journal of Chromatographic Science with no revisions required, an exceptionally rare occurrence, said Gaylor.

These and thirty other projects will be highlighted at the upcoming DSU Research Symposium on March 21.

Nine faculty members, eight groups of graduate students and 16 undergraduate presentations will feature their work at a research and creative design showcase from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the southwest lounge of the Trojan Center. Awards will be presented in the Beacom Collaboration Center at 1 p.m., followed by keynote speaker Dr. William Aylor, assistant vice president in the SDSU Office of Technology Transfer and Commercialization. He will discuss intellectual property rights for students and faculty.

Research projects help faculty and students gain a greater understand of current topics in their field and to find innovative improvements. Pauli’s graduate students’ project resulted in computer script that can help prevent the actions of a particular type of botnet. Botnets are defined as a string of connected computers which coordinate to perform a task. Some botnets can be helpful by performing a repetitive action; others can take control of a computer.

“The Mirai botnet wreaked havoc on the internet in 2016,” said Pauli, “by taking advantage of devices that are connected in an unsecure manner to the Internet.” The students’ research “developed both a hardening and prevention script that can prevent the actions of the Mirai botnet,” he said.

The research brought to light some revelations about cyber security. Jarocki was surprised to discover “the pervasiveness of botnets throughout the IoT (Internet of Things) landscape, and lack of protections afforded to the unsuspecting customer connecting these devices to their networks.” A native of Chicago, Illinois, Jarocki works for the Treasury Department.

“Most security issues, like Mirai botnet infections, arise from devices being improperly configured or overly permissive,” said Nance, a computer science lecturer at Coastal Carolina University. He hopes to secure a tenure track assistant professor position after completing his doctoral degree from Dakota State.

There is a relatively simple security procedure for users to protect themselves: “Reset your default passwords on all of your IoT devices,” recommended Frank. He is currently an independent consultant in cyber security, working for BioReference Laboratories, Inc. He, too, hopes to find a faculty position after receiving his D.Sc.

The interest shown by other researchers, and the networking provided through conferences and symposia such as the DSU event is invaluable to researchers. Jarocki said “collaboration efforts with researchers who share the same passion for knowledge in similar fields can really make a difference.” After graduation, he plans to continue researching cyber security domain issues in hopes of making valued contributions to the field.

Cyber security is not the only topic to be featured at the symposium. Other presenters will discuss their research on technology’s use in education, health, chemistry and biology, English and photography. Music is also featured: Sponsored Programs Director Peter Hoesing will be performing “Repertories of Wellbeing: Songs and Sounds of Healing from the Baganda and Basoga of Eastern Uganda” during the poster presentation in the TC Southwest Lounge from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the symposium.