NPB 3.340, 1 UTSA Circle, San Antonio, TX 78249

Note to Students

Thank you for your interest in joining SPriTELab and UTSA's CS department! I am always looking for highly motivated PhD students and Post-docs whose research interests are aligned with mine, and who can contribute to advancing SPriTELab's research mission.

I typically have to read and process a large quantity of emails every day, and so prior to contacting/emailing me I urge you to carefully read on. If you are serious about working with me in research, I expect you to read this page until the very end and follow my instructions. If you don't, I will know, and it will already tell me that you are not good at listening and following instructions, making me less keen to pursue your candidacy further. Consequently, I will (most likely) ignore your emails and any further communications from you. Alternatively, if you are just here for getting more information about Computer Science graduate programs at UTSA, you can follow this link.

  • To prospective PhD students -

    Let me begin by saying - Please DO NOT send me emails with attachments (including your CVs and transcripts) asking questions about your chances or potential for admission into our PhD program. You should know that I do not make any graduate admission decisions! All admission decisions into our PhD program are made by the CS department's graduate studies committee, a committee of distinguished faculty members from the department, who look at the entire pool of PhD applicants and all the submitted application material to choose the best candidates for these positions. Also, it is NOT a good idea to send me standard/template emails with your CV and other documents requesting me to accept you into SPriTELab as a PhD researcher. I never admit students into my research group by just looking at their CVs or transcripts. Please remember, you can be a PhD researcher in SPriTELab only if you are accepted into UTSA CS's PhD program.

    Regarding funding/scholarship to pursue your PhD studies, I must mention that ALL PhD students admitted into the CS department's PhD program receive some form of competitive support/funding for the duration of their graduate studies, either as research assistanships or teaching assistantships. So, typically funding is not an issue for students who are admitted into our PhD degree program and into my research group - the challenge is getting accepted into our PhD program, which is a highly competitive process. If you have already been admitted into UTSA CS's PhD program and are looking to join SPriTELab, you can skip the next paragraph and continue reading after that.

    So if your next question is, "how do I improve my chances of being accepted into SPriTELab and UTSA CS department's PhD program?", please carefully read on. I can provide a positive/strong recommendation for your PhD application to the department's graduate studies committee, which would significantly improve your chances of being accepted, however it would require the following: (i) you being genuinely interested in my research and passionate about working with me, and I being interested in your technical and research skills, and (ii) you being congnizant about my requirements which have been clearly laid out below. Failure to follow my clear instructions noted below will already tell me that you are either not serious or not a good fit for working with me, and consequently, I will not be interested in your candidacy.

    To show that you are serious about working with me, you need to convince me that (a) you have a decent understanding of my research and current line of work, and (b) you have the necessary background/skills to contribute directly or indirectly towards it. For that, I encourage you to write and email me a (maximum) 2-page Statement of Interest which must include the following details:

    1. a 1-2 paragraph summary of my research papers that interest you the most. Feel free to point out other interesting papers or works in the literature that you have written/read, and how they relate to my research.
    2. a 1-2 paragraph description of how you would like to extend or build upon my current research.
    3. a 1-2 paragraph summary of your academic preparation (degrees completed so far, bachelors/masters university, test scores, etc.). Feel free to highlight here any relevant work experience (e.g., internships) or awards that you may have received.
    4. 1-2 paragraphs outlining why you want to join UTSA and work with me. I am very interested in learning about the attributes/qualities in a PhD advisor that you are looking for.
    5. and finally, to be able to attest that you have read this entire page, I would like you to clearly list in your statement the title of my very first NDSS paper. I am assuming you will know how to find that information.

    If your statement confirms to the above requirements, and your qualifications, background and research plan aligns with my interest, I will email you back and we can have a more earnest discussion about joining my research group and working with me.

    I understand that following these guidelines will require too much time and effort on your end. I also understand that you have been seeking PhD opportunities (with other professors) by means of a generic letter and CV which is not in line with the above requirements. However, I also want you to understand that a PhD commitment is a two-way street. At the same time that you are interested in and committed to working with me, you are also asking me to commit several years of my time and effort (both, intellectual and funding) on you. In order to make such a significant commitment to you, I think it is reasonable for me to expect more than just a standard email/CV!

  • To prospective Post-docs -

    If you are currently in the market for a post-doc position, my assumption is that you have gone through rigorous academic and communication training. Thus, I expect you to know how to professionally communicate with me if you are seeking a post-doc position. The guidelines for prospective PhD students above is a good starting point. Obviously I am expecting more mature and in-depth discussions of future research plans from post-doc applicants.

  • To prospective undergraduate/Masters students -

    Traditionally, we have funded positions only for PhD seeking graduate students. However, in rare cases, we have also funded exceptional Master's and undergraduate research students who are interested in pursuing a Honor's/Master's thesis. If you are interested in pursing an undergraduate Honor's or a Master's Thesis under my supervision, I would encourage you to stop by my office in NPB 3.340 during my office hours. My office hours typically change every semester, so its best to email me before stopping by. During that meeting, please be prepared to describe your academic background and preparation, and any research/programming projects that you may have worked in the past. Also be prepared to talk about specific topics within the information security and privacy area that you would like to focus on during your research project or thesis. Please be prepared to discuss specific research papers and open research problems. I would highly recommend you to take one or more courses on information security and privacy with me before approaching me for research projects. This way I will get a chance to work with you and observe your performance in my classes, which I believe can make the transition to a Thesis much easier.