by Jane Stoyle Welch
Published April 21, 2021
As web applications become more complex, it is almost impossible to ensure that they are not vulnerable to malicious attacks.
Web access failures that compromise millions of user’s data, and security breaches that install malicious software on computers and networks, are just a few of the issues that have become ubiquitous.
Weihang Wang, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is investigating ways to streamline complex web applications and mitigate their unwanted effects with support from the National Science Foundation’s prestigious Early CAREER award.
“My project addresses the technical boundaries that exist in complex web applications and the creation of a scientific foundation for understanding, analyzing, and debugging them that involves diverse languages and multiple parties,” says Wang.
“The project will support web application reliability, increase web development productivity, and provide critical assurance for web users by shielding them from common web issues,” she added.
Wang will also use the award to educate future computer scientists and engineers by involving them in the research project at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and by collaborating with the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ CSExplore Summer Camp, an established day camp for high school girls that teaches the fundamentals of computing.
She plans to organize technical tutorials at conferences and give seminars at software companies to educate others on effective approaches for studying, mitigating, and resolving common web issues.
“One of the outcomes of Weihang’s work is to help make complex web applications more secure and have better privacy protection. As we interact with web applications so often, her work has tremendous social impacts in addition to technical merits, and I am very proud of her achievement," says Chunming Qiao, SUNY Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.
Wang’s main research interests are in software engineering, computer systems, and software security, with a focus on building practical techniques for improving the reliability and efficiency of software systems.
“My long-term career goal is to create effective tools that solve important software development, security, and sustainability issues that affect a significant number of people,” says Wang. “My work leverages emerging software infrastructures and hardware devices to create innovative techniques and systems that can respond to ever-changing computing requirements.”
The five-year award is entitled “Cross-Boundary Program Analyses for Web Applications” and is funded with $500,000 by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Computing and Communication Foundations.
In addition to the NSF CAREER Award, Wang has received a Facebook Testing and Verification Research Award in 2019, a Mozilla Research Award in 2019, and the Maurice H. Halstead Memorial Research Award in 2018.
Wang joined the faculty of the University at Buffalo in 2018, after earning her PhD from Purdue University.