man in suit

Cutting-Edge Cybersecurity Faculty Earn Regents’ Professor and Entrepreneur Titles

Professors Wenke Lee, John P. Imlay Jr. chair in software, and Mustaque Ahamad were given a Regents’ designation during the April University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents (BoR) meeting in recognition of their dedicated careers in higher education. 

Lee is now a Regents’ Professor and Ahamad is a Regents’ Entrepreneur. The designations are the highest USG honors faculty can receive. Both men are jointly appointed to the School of Computer Science (SCS) and the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy (SCP). Many of their former students have gone on to be leaders in industry and academia. 

"Wenke Lee is an outstanding faculty whose career has contributed significantly to the mission of Georgia Tech," said SCP Chair Michael Bailey. "He is widely recognized as one of the most influential security researchers in the world."

Lee’s research has nearly 50,000 citations from over 200 papers he has helped author, according to Google Scholar. He has served on nearly 100 editorial boards and program committees. His research awards include four test-of-time awards and several best-paper awards.

man sitting in front of a window
Professors Wenke Lee, John P. Imlay Jr. chair in software, has been named a Regents' Professor by the University System of Georgia. Photo by John Popham/ School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

“Congratulations to Wenke. As a renowned scholar and leader in the field of cybersecurity, he has helped SCP and Georgia Tech become a leader in this field,” said Ahamad. “This recognition by the BoR is well deserved. “

Ahamad has played a major role in helping his students launch various start-ups. Some of his most notable ventures include becoming the co-founder and chief scientist of Pindrop and Codoxo. 

“Congratulations to Mustaque, who has been a mentor, role model, and supporter to many of us, and a leader of security research and education at Georgia Tech since more than two decades ago,” said Lee.

“More importantly, Mustaque has been the shining star of transitioning cutting-edge academic research to high-impact new technologies, with two start-ups from his group in the last few years. Simply put, Mustaque is a great example that we want to follow.”

The entrepreneurial recognition is for the companies that Ahamad co-founded with his doctoral students Vijay Balasubramaniyan and Musheer Ahmed. Pindrop Security and Codoxo have raised close to $250 million from top-tier venture capital firms like A16Z, Capital G, and QED. Products developed by these startups help secure top companies in the financial, health, and retail areas.

“Georgia Tech seeks to serve the community through the application of science, technology, research, and innovation to enhance the region's economic development,” said Bailey. “If one were to look for a single example of how a successful partnership with an entrepreneur can demonstrate support for these outcomes, I would think of no better example than that of Mustaque Ahamad.”

Lee and Ahamad have not only made tremendous contributions to cybersecurity research, but also played an integral part in cybersecurity education at Georgia Tech. 

In 2002, Ahamad launched the Master of Science in Information Security program and served as director of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) from 2004 to 2012. 

man talking to woman
Professor Mustaque Ahamad has been recognized as a Regents’ Entrepreneur by the University System of Georgia. This image, along with the main image, were taken by Kevin Beasley/ College of Computing. 

Lee took the helm of the Institute’s cybersecurity research unit in 2012 and guided it through its 2015 transformation to a campus-wide research unit, the Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP). 

The two professors pushed Georgia Tech into a new era of cybersecurity education once again in 2020. They helped launch the School of Cybersecurity and Privacy, where they continue to mentor and teach graduate students. 

“Both Professors Ahamad and Lee were so supportive of me during my time at SCP,” said Alicia Biju, a graduating cybersecurity master’s student.

When a friend told Biju about the FS-ISAC Women in Cyber Scholarship days before the application deadline, she had to act quickly to gather everything needed to apply. One requirement called for two letters of recommendation, which she says Lee and Ahamad quickly got to her. Biju was announced as one of the 30 Women in Cyber Scholarship recipients in September. 

“I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. “I'm thrilled to know that they have been honored for their work.”

Lee is SCP’s second Regents’ Professor. Regents’ Professor Seymour Goodman earned the title in 2016 and became the department’s first when he joined the faculty in 2021. Ahamad is the first Regents’ Entrepreneur in the College of Computing. These ranks are held by less than 5% of USG faculty. 

A Regents’ professor, researcher, or entrepreneur distinction is awarded only after a unanimous recommendation from the president of the recipient’s university, their chief academic officer and dean, and three additional members of the faculty named by the university president. Approval by the chancellor and the BOR Committee on Academic Affairs is also required. These distinctions are given to those who make outstanding contributions to their respective institutions.