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Doctoral student wins national award

Rodrigo Augusto Dos Santos, doctoral candidate in the College of Engineering

Rodrigo Augusto Dos Santos, doctoral candidate in the College of Engineering

Teaching has transformed Rodrigo Augusto Dos Santos’ experience at UTA. Sharing what he has learned with students who might someday build upon that knowledge has broadened his views on research as well.

“I came to realize that I want to continue to be a mentor to students and others who are just getting started,” he says.

Dos Santos, a doctoral candidate in the Computer Science and Engineering Department, was one of 10 students nationwide to win a Computing Alliance of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (CAHSI) Google Dissertation Award last year. The CAHSI Google Dissertation Award recognizes promising doctoral research from computer science students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

Dos Santos’ research focuses on neural networks and how they can be used for safety-related sound detection. Devices that run services such as Alexa and Nest make extensive use of neural networks, which are known to be vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks. His work involves attacking these networks to find security flaws and shoring them up to make the services using them less susceptible to hacking.

“Until those vulnerabilities are reasonably dealt with, we won’t fully realize their potential on actual practical applications,” Dos Santos says. “I hope I can somehow contribute to the rise of the next generation of researchers in this area.”

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