ENGINEERING NEWS

Jennie Rogers Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Award will provide more than $500,000 over five years to support research and education initiatives

Northwestern Engineering’s Jennie Rogers has received a Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the foundation’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty members.

Rogers, assistant professor of computer science in the McCormick School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science, will receive $546,397 over five years from NSF’s Division of Computer and Network Systems.

Jennie RogersThe award supports early career development of individuals who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

Rogers's research interests are in optimizing the performance of database workloads, particularly large, fractured databases. For institutions like government, hospitals, and schools, data concerning a single individual or unit is dispersed across many databases. To gain insights across these fractured datasets, data scientists create a data federation, which culls data from multiple databases into a single engine for unified searching. In addition to concerns over privacy and regulatory requirements, most data federation platforms are considered too slow to be practical.

The CAREER award will support Rogers's efforts to develop a private data federation that runs queries using SQL, a standard database communication language, efficiently and with rigorous security guarantees. Called VaultDB, the platform will allow data analysts to query private data from two or more parties, revealing only the information that’s available from the query's output. The system runs securely by translating queries into cryptographic protocols that run among the data providers.

The award will also result in new curriculum for high school students on secure databases that will be available through Northwestern’s CT-STEM program.

“I feel honored to receive this recognition,” Rogers said. “The NSF CAREER Award is an endorsement of my research agenda of enabling people to gain insights from private data that is fractured among multiple owners. This award will make it possible for us to break new ground in the field of efficient, privacy-preserving data analytics.”