ASU center, Allstate partner to address cybersecurity challenges

June 17, 2016

Arizona State University’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics (CDF) is partnering with Allstate Insurance to address digital security challenges by advancing cybersecurity research, education and entrepreneurship.

As the founding, platinum-level member and industry partner of CDF, Allstate Insurance will pledge $1.5 million over three years to support scholarship, student fellowships and competitions related to cybersecurity and digital forensics. In return, it will receive assistance in sourcing ASU students for internships, opportunities to partake in CDF-sponsored events, and office space at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. The ASU Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics and Allstate Insurance are partnering to address cybersecurity challenges with the help of research, education and entrepreneurship. Pictured, from left: Todd Hardy, senior economic development adviser, Knowledge Enterprise Development; Stephen Yau, professor, School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, who set up several information assurance programs in computer science; Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development; Gail-Joon Ahn, director of Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics; Jamie Winterton, director of strategic research initiatives at Global Security Initiative, who leads cybersecurity strategy for the initiative; and Nadya Bliss, director of Global Security Initiative. Download Full Image

“In addition to managing sensitive and valuable data, Allstate is also arming itself against potential risks that might accompany emerging cyber-related technologies, including smart vehicles and home automation,” said Gail-Joon Ahn, director of the center and professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, who will be leading the partnership. “Allstate’s partnership with the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics will help identify and understand potential risks to help the insurance company continue to provide excellent service and fulfill its business goals.”

“Allstate provides innovative protection and retirement solutions to more than 16 million households across the country. We are also committed to the protection of confidential information,” said Paul Black, director of security engineering and operations at Allstate Insurance Company. “Our partnership with ASU aligns perfectly with our goals; to keep ahead of evolving cyber threats and constantly deploy innovative methods to protect our valuable information assets. We’re excited to collaborate with ASU to share cutting-edge academic research and apply what we learn to real-time corporate issues.” 

The partnership is expected to be the first of many that will link the center to industry, university and government entities that will play a vital role in producing a skillful workforce in the area of national security and contribute to economic growth.

To extend the impact of ASU cybersecurity and digital forensics research even further, CDF also aims to promote commercialization and technology transfer activities to advance innovation and entrepreneurial activities in the field.

“This partnership fits perfectly with the center's mission, bringing together expertise from private industry and academia, and giving students an opportunity to get hands-on experience. I look forward to working with Allstate to continue to establish the Valley as a leader in cybersecurity research, entrepreneurship and education,” said Nadya Bliss, director of the Global Security Initiative that houses CDF.

The Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics focuses on three pillars — education, research and innovation — to help produce an outstanding workforce in the area of national security. It tackles short-term and long-term security challenges via top-notch research expertise and activities; and significantly contributes to economic growth in Arizona and the U.S. by transferring innovative and patented technologies to the marketplace.

Learn more about ASU’s Global Security Initiative and the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics at For further information, contact Gail-Joon Ahn, director, Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.

The Allstate Corporation is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, protecting approximately 16 million households from life’s uncertainties through auto, home, life and other insurance offered through its Allstate, Esurance, Encompass and Answer Financial brand names.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

Professor cementing his status as pioneering civil engineering researcher

June 17, 2016

Narayanan Neithalath’s strides in research to improve the design and development of sustainable infrastructure and construction materials have been earning international attention in his field.

The latest recognition for the professor in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University comes from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), which has awarded him a Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize. ASU engineering professor Narayanan Neithalath in lab with students Professor Narayanan Neithalath (right) directs undergraduate engineering student Hannah Hansen and assistant research professor Sumanta Das in testing new techniques to heal cracks in concrete. Neithalath is being recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers for his research on advanced materials for civil engineering applications. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU Download Full Image

Neithalath is making particular progress with new materials and methods for producing more durable cement and concrete. But his efforts span across a wide range of the physical, chemical and mechanical aspects of these materials, as well as the environmental impacts of their production and use over their life spans.

He is “one of the rising stars in the emerging areas of new and novel civil engineering materials, contributing greatly to the body of knowledge in this area,” said professor G. Edward Gibson Jr., director of the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment in the Fulton Schools.

Gibson and Fulton Schools' ASU Regents’ Professor Edward Kavazanjian point to Neithalath’s work to better understand the microstructures and properties of the materials as a fundamental step to developing stronger cement and more resilient concrete, and to designing more effective performance testing of the building materials.

Beyond that, they note Neithalath’s efforts to make cementless binding systems that could replace conventional Portland cement in many applications and thus significantly reduce the environmentally harmful greenhouse gas emissions produced by standard cement.

They also highlight Neithalath’s collaboration with industry to put his research findings into practice and his outstanding performance as a teacher of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering and as a mentor to students.

Other colleagues who nominated him for the Huber Prize described his work as creative, pioneering and potentially groundbreaking.

His research accomplishments have attracted funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation and the National Science Foundation (NSF), in addition to support from industry.

In 2008, he won an NSF CAREER Award, which is given to young scientists and engineers who demonstrate the potential to become research and education leaders in fields considered important to national interests.

Neithalath also won the Indian American Cultural Center award for outstanding accomplishments in sustainable engineering, developed and patented novel materials — including carbonated metallic binders, high-volume cement replacement systems and methods for crack control in concretes — and has more than 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Last year, he led a multi-university research team whose proposal was one of 10 from among about 100 submissions selected for funding from the European Commission’s Infravation program, which aims to make breakthroughs in sustainable transportation technologies and infrastructure.

His team’s $1.6 million Infravation project involves developing long-lasting, fracture-resistant pavements for roads and bridges. Read more about the project.

Neithalath will be officially presented the Huber Prize in Portland, Oregon, in September as part of the ASCE’s annual conference. The organization represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries.

Joe Kullman

Science writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering