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Assistant Professor Brent Waters has won a Packard Fellowship. Only sixteen Packard Fellowships were awarded this year across all of science and engineering.

His research focuses on finding new methods to secure stored data by encryption. He is laying the foundations for an entirely different vision for encryption that he calls Functional Encryption.  With Functional Encryption, instead of encrypting to individual users, one can embed how they want to share data in the encryption process. Decryption is self-enforcing, allowing encrypted data to be stored on untrusted locations such as cloud storage sites.

About Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering

In 1988, the Packard Foundation established the Fellowships for Science and Engineering to allow the nation’s most promising professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements.

From unraveling the mysteries of aging, to studying emerging virus strains for rapid detection and prevention, to better understanding the physics of insect flight, research performed in university laboratories has the ability to profoundly impact our lives.

Each year, the Foundation invites the presidents of 50 universities to nominate two early-career professors each from their institutions. An advisory panel of distinguished scientists and engineers carefully reviews the nominations and selects 16 Fellows to receive individual grants of $875,000, distributed over five years.

Packard Fellows must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators engaged in research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering. Candidates engaged in research in the social sciences are not considered.

Packard Fellows are encouraged to think big and look at complex issues with a fresh perspective. The Foundation has few paperwork requirements, and Fellows may use their funds in whatever way would best advance their research.

Today, more than 400 university professors in science and engineering have received Packard Fellowships totaling more than $230 million. Packard Fellows have gone on to receive additional awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize in Physics; the Fields Medal; and MacArthur, Sloan, Searle, and Guggenheim fellowships.