Sloan Mentor Spotlight

Sriram Chellappan is a Professor and Undergraduate Program Coordinator for Cybersecurity in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of South Florida.  His research interests include socio-technical systems, cybersecurity, smart health, cyber-physical systems, mobile and wireless computing. Dr. Chellappan's research has been supported by grant awards from the National Science Foundation, U. S. Department of Education, Army Research Office, National Security Agency, and DARPA. He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER Award in 2013, the Missouri S&T Faculty Excellence Award in 2014, the Missouri S&T Outstanding Teaching Commendation Award in 2014, the Missouri S&T Faculty Research Award in 2015, and a USF Excellence in Innovation in 2021.

Srriram Chellappan

Since his arrival to USF in Fall 2015, Dr. Chellappan has graduated 11 graduate students, including Sloan scholar Anthony Windmon, (who is now a Senior Model Analyst/Validator and Assistant Vice President at Citi). Recently, Dr. Chellappan responded to questions from Michelle Henderson, President of the UCEM Student Leadership Council (SLC), regarding his current research, journey as a researcher and faculty, and approach to mentoring graduate students.  

1. How would you describe your research including the broader impact?  
My research focuses on design, deployment and analysis on computing systems with direct social impact. Essentially, this means that systems that I work on incorporate, and tightly integrate aspects of society that these technologies are focused on. Impact of my research lies in AI focused systems for cardiac care, public health, combating cyber abuse and cyber privacy.

2. Can you discuss your journey as a researcher and current position at USF?  
Research is mostly asking right questions, and somehow finding the right path to tread on. Once these are taken care of, the rest mostly follow in place. I am currently a Professor in The Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering at USF. I love the place, mainly because, USF provides a very fertile ground for identifying and solving problems of deep technical, and societal (in some cases, global) impact.

3. What do you find most rewarding about your work as a professor? What makes this work meaningful and interesting to you?  
I am almost always in the company of young people with fresh ideas. Keeps me constantly motivated, and keeps me learning all the time. Just when I think I have mastered a topic, a question from a student comes in that completely changes perspective (in a positive manner).

4. Did you have mentors early in your career who inspired you?  
I have had many mentors. My PhD advisor Prof. Dong Xuan from The Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering at The Ohio-State University is obviously a very major influence. Among many other things, the most important lesson he ever taught me was that I can work hard, and if I do so consistently, the fruits of my labor will come eventually.

5. What have been the most important qualities in the mentors that you’ve had?  Also, can you discuss your own approach to mentoring?  
My mentors kept my best interests in their mind. As someone young, that feeling is important to have. Helps one keep focused and positive during setbacks.

6. What are the attributes or skills that you believe are important to have as a professor?  Also, why would you encourage students to consider careers in academia?  
A professor must adapt. No two students are alike. No two classes will be the same. No two students will have the same approach to research. I believe adaptability is the key. Regarding next question, Academia gives one freedom to pursue research agendas that are big with broader impact. There is a lot of investment by the government, military, and industry to support basic R&D. So, yes, this is an exciting time.

7. How do you like to spend your time outside of research and maintain a work/life balance?  
My kids, and trying to identify the next research problem/ agenda to work on. That sums it up. Every Fall though, I check College Football scores when my beloved Buckeyes play. Hope they win it all this year.

8. Why do you believe increased diversity and inclusion in your discipline and overall, in STEM is important?  
Diversity is absolutely important. The economy today is globally connected. Having diversity in K-12, College, Higher Degrees and Workforce means that our contributions have the scope and scale to make global impact. Technologies are not merely software and hardware, but need to be culturally adaptive for a calmer and more peaceful world. Diversity is critical to expand one’s horizons for broader impact.

To learn more about Dr. Chellappan’s research, please visit: 

Faculty Page

Lab Page

USF researchers develop new technologies to fight mosquito-borne diseases