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Junior Research Fellow awarded prestigious grant with potential to advance national security

November 7, 2023

New technologies including systems that prevent cyberattacks on electricity grids and national airspace infrastructure are among the latest UK Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellowships focusing on areas of cutting edge unclassified basic research that can support the intelligence, security and defence communities.

Kellogg Junior Research Fellow Dr Sebastian Köhler is among seven researchers awarded postdoctoral research grants by the Government Office for Science and administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Each awardee receives funding for at least two years of their project and mentorship from a Fellow of the Academy as well as an advisor from the intelligence community.

Sebastian’s research focuses on physical-layer security in the next generation of power grids.

Commenting on being awarded the fellowship he said:

The smooth and stable operation of the electricity grid requires continuous monitoring of demand and production. This research aims to identify and address vulnerabilities in sensor systems used for monitoring in order to increase resilience to cyberattacks.’

‘It’s a privilege to be among an elite few to be selected for the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering UK IC fellowship. The support over the next two years will enable me to advance my research with the goal to improve the security of critical national infrastructure. Ensuring the security of the power grid, including electric vehicles, photovoltaic systems and grid-connected battery storage, will facilitate the transition to a fully renewable and smart energy grid and, ultimately, to net zero.”

Other areas of research that have received fellowships include insect-inspired drones with enhanced flight and energy efficiency, how humans can learn to control an extra robotic arm and smart antennas to ensure global connectivity for small satellite constellations.

At the Department of Computer Science, Sebastian is part of the Systems Security Lab, led by Kellogg Fellow Professor Ivan Martinovic, where he coordinates the research activities in wireless and physical-layer security. His work focuses on the security of various systems ranging from space and satellite systems to autonomous and electric vehicles.

For his work during his DPhil, which revealed a serious vulnerability in a widely used electric vehicle charging protocol, he was awarded the EPSRC Doctoral Prize and the MPLS Early-Career Research Impact Award.

The full profiles of the new postdoctoral researchers are available on the Academy’s website.

This news story was first published on the Department of Computer Science website.