Spotlight on Young Researchers: Zhe Liu

 

Zhe Liu’s passion for research grew from a desire to find out how things work and why. Considering himself as a ‘Luxembourg-made Chinese researcher’, Zhe came to Luxembourg in 2011 for his AFR PhD, a project for which he later won an FNR Award for ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’ in 2016. After his PhD, Zhe moved to Canada but, missing Luxembourg, he returned to the Grand Duchy and is now continuing his research into the security of Wireless Sensor Networks at the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, as a research associate. We spoke to Zhe about his research, goals and Luxembourg’s potential as a research destination.

Your research deals with the security of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs), why is this important, and what does your research entail?

“WSNs are nowadays used in a wide variety of applications, even though few people recognize them. For example, sensors play a crucial role in autonomous vehicles (i.e. self-driving cars) as they enable them to recognize traffic conditions or road signs.

“Wireless sensors are also important in health care, e.g. to monitor the vital body functions of a patient. In both application domains, security is of paramount importance since an attacker with the ability to manipulate sensor readings or to suppress their transmission can cause serious harm, which could in the worst case even be life-threatening.

“I design and implement cryptographic algorithms (including both pre-quantum and post-quantum variants) to protect the data collected by small sensor nodes and the transmission of data to a central computer for evaluation and decision making.”

What inspired you to pursue the path of research?

“I was always interested in the world around me and wanted to figure out how things work and why. For me, it started as a child, since I always found it very exciting to know new things and learn as much as I could about everything I saw around. Research is like ‘You can ask a simple question, think of a way to answer it, and then try to figure it out if you are right or wrong.’

“When I was an M.Sc. student, I had the opportunity to work with some world-renowned professors and tried to find new solutions for some open problems. What I like about being a researcher is that you are given the freedom to explore new things and have the chance to constantly feel young. I get to learn as much as I can and try to find better solutions to make the Internet more secure, which in the end I hope will contribute to give people a better standard of living.”

What are your goals, as a researcher?

“The main goal I would like to achieve is that my research generates impact in the real world. The importance of focusing on real-world problems and coming up with practical solutions is something I learned in the past few years during my PhD studies and thereafter as an independent researcher.

“I am also lucky to have the opportunity to work with some world-class researchers, most notably my PhD supervisors Prof Jean-Sébastien Coron and Johann Großschädl at the Laboratory of Algorithmics, Cryptology and Security (LACS) of University of Luxembourg, my post-doc supervisors Prof Michele Mosca and Prof David Jao at the Insitute for Quantum Computing (IQC) of the University of Waterloo, as well as Prof Peter Ryan from SnT.

“I was impressed by their research skills and they have shown me great examples on how to pick interesting research topics and how to conduct high-quality research.”

You are originally from China, what made you decide to come to Luxembourg?

“I consider myself a Luxembourg-made Chinese researcher! My connection with University of Luxembourg started in 2009 when I was one of three students to take part in an exchange program between Shandong University and the University of Luxembourg. Later, in 2011, I received an AFR PhD grant, which made it possible to return to the University of Luxembourg for four more years. After finishing my PhD, I worked in Canada for 1.5 years, but I personally missed the great time I had in Luxembourg, especially the fantastic research environment, the international flair of the country, and the diverse cultures around.”

What have been some of the highlights during your time in Luxembourg?

“I am the first student from China who received the FNR Outstanding PhD Thesis Award, which is a great honour for me. In April 2017, I returned to Luxembourg to join SnT as a research associate after my research stay in Canada. One of my first activities in SnT was to write a funding proposal for an FNR CORE Junior project.

“In summary, my research career and progress has to a large extent been enabled by the University of Luxembourg and supported by the FNR. I hope that one day I will be in a position to further strengthen the ties between Luxembourg and China by initiating research collaborations and enabling Luxembourgish students to spend research stays in China.”

You spent some time in Canada after finishing your PhD in Luxembourg, but you have now come back to Luxembourg. What do you think about Luxembourg’s potential as a research destination?

“In the past decade, the government of Luxembourg has increased the annual budgets for research activities significantly to invest in cutting-edge research. Luxembourg has undergone a rapid development is now establishing itself as a major research center in Europe. One of the landmark events in computer science was the foundation of SnT, which provides an excellent environment to conduct internationally competitive research in information security and cryptography.”

Watch Zhe Liu’s video produced for his 2016 FNR Award in the category ‘Outstanding PhD Thesis’:


Published 17 August 2017

zhe-liu
Zhe Liu

RELATED PROGRAMMES

About Spotlight on Young Researchers

Spotlight on Young Researchers is an FNR initiative to highlight early career researchers across the world who have a connection to Luxembourg. This article is the 24th in a series of 25 articles, which are published on a weekly basis. You can see more articles below as and when they are published.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Pit Ullmann

Pit Ullmann’s interest in natural sciences was piqued in high school. The Luxembourg national went on to study molecular biology at the University of Innsbruck and then found himself desiring a job that would be both interdisciplinary and diversified – fast forward and Pit is now completing his AFR PhD at the University of Luxembourg, where his research group studies why and how colon cancer develops and spreads.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Max Hilaire Wolter

During his Bachelor studies in physics and photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg, Max Hilaire Wolter was exposed to live-action research for the first time. The experience left such a positive impression that Max proactively sought out to return to the same lab for a PhD after completing his Master’s studies abroad. We spoke to the Luxembourg national about why research is fun, solar cells and the importance of science outreach.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Gil Georges

Gil Georges is driven by the quest for knowledge and strives to have a real impact, beyond publications. The Luxembourg national has just made the jump from early-career researcher to lecturer and group leader at the IET-LAV at ETH Zürich in Switzerland, where the data analyst and modeller gets to use one of Europe’s most powerful super computers when it is time for some serious number crunching.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Hussein Rappel

Hussein Rappel uses a mathematical learning approach to try to predict and simulate physical phenomena. The Iranian national came to Luxembourg in 2014 to join the team of Prof Stephane Bordas at the University of Luxembourg, where he is now in the 3rd year of his PhD in Computational Science – and sees great potential in Luxembourg as a research destination.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Understanding brain mechanisms behind eating disorders

Eating disorders affect up to 5% of people. At the University of Luxembourg, Dr Annika Lutz and Lynn Erpelding study the brain mechanisms that help form body image, and want to understand how eating disorders develop. Using a multidimensional approach, the team’s ultimate goal is to improve treatment for people suffering from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Guillaume Nataf

“Would matter be perfect, it would be boring” says Guillaume Nataf, who has an oozing passion for physics and teaching fundamental science. The French national did his PhD in the group of FNR PEARL Chair Jens Kreisel at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), in collaboration with the French Atomic Commission (CEA). We spoke to Guillaume, who has just started a Postdoc at the University of Cambridge, about life as a researcher.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Antonio Ancora

In the current situation of legal uncertainty, PhD candidate Antonio Ancora’s research at the University of Luxembourg aims to improve tax certainty in the context of state aid investigation on Transfer Pricing transactions among multinational enterprises.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Nature does it best

What is the connection between the gut of a termite and renewable energy? What binds them is anaerobic digestion, the process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material without oxygen. We speak to four young researchers in the Biosystems and Bioprocessing Engineering group at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) about how understanding the termite gut could help unlock the full potential of anaerobic digestion, and the associated benefits for green and cleantech.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Amy Parrish

During her Master’s studies, Amy Parrish found her passion for research with a clinical aspect. Having come from London to Luxembourg to pursue her AFR PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH) in the research group of Mahesh Desai, the American national studies the bacteria that inhabit our gut, to shed light on the development of diseases such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Dimitra Anastasiou

In 2015, Dimitra Anastasiou was featured in our campaign ‘Spotlight on Young Researchers’, which highlighted early-career researchers with a connection to Luxembourg. In November 2015, Dimitra moved to Luxembourg with her young family to start her prestigious Marie Curie Individual Fellowship at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST). One year on, we caught up with Dimitra!

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies for analytics purposes. Find out more in our Privacy Statement