Carthage student honored for research in computer science
- Aaron Morris ’15
Carthage senior Nathan Fulton was recognized with a silver award at a premier computer programming conference last month for his research into guarding against code injection.
The Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH) conference was held Oct. 21-25 in Tucson, Ariz. Nathan attended with Professor Mark Mahoney and two other Carthage students, Kevin Lubick ‘13 and Wojciech Snarski ‘13. Kevin and Wojciech presented research they conducted over the summer with Prof. Mahoney as part of Carthage’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience.
“Other fields have journals for research to be published in, but our field doesn’t really do that as much because everything is so fast moving,” Nathan said. “So having my work shown at the conference is really big deal.”
Nathan, a double-major in computer science and mathematics, received the silver award in the undergraduate research category for his project “Security Through Extensible Type Systems.” Nathan’s research deals with guarding against a process called code injection. Code injection occurs when someone wishing to do harm gains access to programming code and alters it. This alteration can change the appearance of a website, spread malevolent software, or even obtain private information from a user. Nathan’s research makes it harder for the code to be altered and adds an extra layer of security.
“Going to the conference and winning the award is a big deal not only for Nathan, but for Carthage as a whole,” said Prof. Mahoney, chair of the Computer Science Department. “SPLASH is one of the most important conferences in the field and Carthage was the only small, liberal arts school there.”
“Nathan performed his work this past summer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, one of the top universities in the country and was supported by a Research Internship from the Institute for Software Research. His work was one of only four projects to make it past the peer review process and make it to the conference.
Winning the award meant a lot to Nathan, but attending the conference is what truly excited him. “Going to the conference and being able to link faces and personalities to people whose work I read was great,” he said. “Being able to talk to them about my work and have them want to use it was amazing.”
Nathan’s classmates Kevin, a computer science major from DeForest, Wis., and Wojciech, a computer science and business administration major from Glenview, Ill., participated in the conference when they presented their research with Prof. Mahoney, “Software Evolution and the Moving Picture Metaphor.”
Essentially, the software allows users to record whatever they do on a computer, including keystrokes, clicks and mouse movement. The user can also add notes to display at specific points. The software could be used for tutorials for other people or as a reminder.
“As a programmer, the software can be extremely useful because you may input code and three months later not know why it’s there,” Prof. Mahoney said.