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Top achievement award: PhD student Mark Will


3 September 2014

Top achievement award for PhD student Mark Will

Processing encrypted data securely in the Cloud is the subject of Mark Will’s PhD, and a scholarship recognising his high level of achievement will go some way to help support him while he carries out this research.

The 22-year-old is one of two first-year PhD candidates to be awarded a 2014 Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship from the University of Waikato.

The scholarship adds a one-off payment of $5000 to Mark’s Doctoral Scholarship of $22,000 a year for three years from Waikato.

“It’s a real privilege to be recognised by Waikato University academics and the Scholarship Board. It was such a nice surprise, I didn’t even know I’d been nominated for the scholarship. This means I don’t have to find work so I can focus on my research rather than worry about money.”

Mark completed a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences (First Class Hons) in 2013.

The former Hamilton Boys’ High School student says it’s important that data is encrypted in the Cloud so remains secure.

“However, the problem is when you want to process this data, it must first be unencrypted, or revealed in plain text, which makes it unsecure when it’s outside of the controlled network. Homomorphic encryption allows you to process this data while it’s still encrypted.”

Mark says there are a lot of people working on the mathematics of data encryption, but he’s working on the implementation of it.

“Processing encrypted data takes so long, so I’m trying to find ways to make it more usable. This will allow the building of more trustworthy and secure Cloud applications.”

Mark’s PhD supervisors are Dr Ryan Ko, Dr Ian Witten, Dr Richard Nelson and Anthony Blake.

The other recipient of the Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship is Jack Pronger. Recipients of these scholarships are selected based on grade-point average and other factors.


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