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The SAND Lab (Systems, Algorithms, Networking and Data) at University of Chicago is co-directed by Professor Ben Y. Zhao and Professor Heather Zheng. Our research spans topics in security, machine learning, networked systems, HCI, data mining and modeling. Lab members includes (8-12) PhD and MS students, undergrad researchers, and visiting scholars.

Join us!

We are looking to add 2-4 smart and driven PhD students to the lab in the 2019-2020 application cycle! If you're interested, please fill out this little Google form so we can keep you on a short list of candidates, and make sure to mention Heather and Ben when checking boxes for faculty in your UChicago PhD Application!


Good luck and thanks to Tobias Lauinger, who moves on to NYU from SAND Lab!

Congrats to Yanzi, Zhujun, Yuxin, Zhijing and Max on their NDSS paper on adversarial sensing!

Congrats to Kevin and Huiying on their CCS paper on latent backdoor attacks on DNNs!

Congrats to Yanzi Zhu, who finally defended in July and will be heading to Google this fall!

Congrats to our new PhD lab alumni: Xinyi Zhang, Shiliang Tang, and Zhijing Li, all defended in late May, early June and all headed to Facebook!

Congrats to our alumnus Gang Wang on his new position as Assistant Professor at UIUC Computer Science!

Congrats to Zhijing and Zhujun for their MobiHoc paper on spectrum anomaly detection!

SAND Lab finally gets a real lab logo!

Congrats to Bolun for (finally) defending his thesis and running off to join the evil empire Facebook!

Congrats to Bolun, Yuanshun, Shawn, Huiying, Bimal for their Oakland paper on defending DNNs against backdoor attacks!

Congrats to Bolun, Yuanshun and Bimal for their USENIX Security paper on transfer learning!

A huge congratulations to Professor Bimal Viswanath. Bimal will be joining Virginia Tech as tenure-track assistant professor this fall!

Congrats to Shiliang, Xinyi, Jenna and Miriam for their CSCW 2018 paper on gender bias!

Congrats to Yuanshun, Bimal, Jenna for their CCS paper on Automated Crowdturf Attacks using DNNs!

Current Research Areas

Research at the SAND lab encompasses topics across multiple areas, most heavily centered around three core areas: wireless and mobile systems, HCI and social behavior, security and privacy. Please see individual links below for more information on specific ongoing projects and related publications.

Wireless and Mobile Systems


Security and Privacy, Machine Learning

  • Projects
  • Adversarial Attacks against and using ML
  • Malicious Crowdsourcing and Defenses
  • Measurements of Social Systems and Networks
  • Recent publications
  • CCS'19: Latent Backdoor Attacks on DNNs
  • Oakland'19: Detecting Backdoor Attacks on DNNs
  • USENIX Security'18: Attacks on Transfer Learning

HCI and Analysis of User Behavior


Recent Papers (2014-2020)

  • NDSS: Adversarial Sensing Attacks
  • CCS: Latent Backdoor Attacks on DNNs
  • SIGCOMM: Automated ACL management
  • MobiHoc: ML for spectrum anomaly detection
  • Oakland/S&P: Backdoor Attacks on DNNs
  • USENIX SEC: Transfer Learning Attack on DNNs
  • CSCW: Gender Bias over Time
  • CCS: Fake Online Reviews using DNNs
  • IMC: ML as a Service
  • ICWSM: Echo chambers in discussion boards
  • ICWSM: Venmo mobile payments
  • MobiSys: Single device 60GHz radar
  • WWW: Identifying value in crowdsourced data
  • IMC: Anatomy of personalized livestreaming svcs
  • IMC: Empirical link prediction
  • SenSys: Commodity Spectrum Monitoring
  • MobiSys: Defending Against Sybil Devices
  • ICWSM: Misbehavior in location-based soc. networks
  • CHI: Unsupervised clickstream clustering
  • NSDI: Cellular traffic optimization
  • COSN: Towards Graph Watermarks
  • COSN: Process-driven Analysis of Dynamics in Online Social Interactions
  • Mobicom: Practical 60GHz Mobile Radar
  • SIGCOMM: Congestion Control for Large-scale RDMA Deployments
  • SIGCOMM: Packet-Level Telemetry in Large Datacenter Networks
  • WWW: Energy and Performance of Smartphone Radio Bundling in Outdoor Environments
  • CSCW: Crowds on Wall Street: Extracting Value from Collaborative Investing Platforms
  • IMC: Whispers in the Dark: Analysis of an Anonymous Social Network

Available Software Downloads
* Measurement-calibrated graph models
* Graph Coordinate Systems (Orion, Rigel, Leo)

News and Upcoming Deadlines

  • 8/2019: Lab receives NSF grant on Spectrum anomaly detection
  • 7/2019: Yanzi completes his PhD and moves to Google!
  • 7/2019: Ben interviewed by CNBC and speaks at AI/Work summit
  • 6/2019: Xinyi, Zhijing and Shiliang defend their PhDs and move to Facebook!
  • 6/2019: Ben speaks about weaponized AI to Chicago Bar Association
  • 5/2019: Articles in UChicago Magazine and UChicago news about our research
  • 4/2019: Congrats to lab alum Gang, who moves to UIUC CS as Assistant Professor!
  • 2/2019: Congrats to lab alum Christo, who wins Sloan Fellowship!
  • 12/2018: Bolun completes his PhD and moves to Facebook!
  • 9/2018: Emily Willson joins us as first year PhD student!
  • 6/2018: Bimal moves to his new faculty position at VT!
  • 8/2017: SAND Lab moves to University of Chicago!
  • 7/2017: Ben joins editorial board of ACM Transactions on the Web
  • 6/2017: NSF funds SAND Lab proposal on Sybil Devices (w/ Rice)
  • 5/2017: Ben and Heather accept posts as Neubauer Professors of Computer Science at University of Chicago