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: Dominique Santana

After completing her master’s degree, Luxembourg national Dominique Santana decided to spend time in her mother’s birth country Brazil. While there, she became intrigued by Brazil’s communities of Luxembourgish nationals and wanted to investigate further. Now in the first year of her AFR PhD at the C²DH at the University of Luxembourg, Dominique is examining the paths of Luxembourgers who emigrated to Brazil from 1920 – 1965, which has already rekindled old friendships.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Sumit Gautam

While we frequently hear about new trends in mobile and wireless technologies, challenges remain, such as the need to charge devices on a stationary device. At the SnT at the University of Luxembourg, Postdoc Sumit Gautam works on solving the future information and energy requirements of wireless devices, via radio frequency (RF)-based techniques.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Ricalens

Quantum computing is one of the hottest topics in physical sciences. As part of his AFR PhD at the University of Sussex, Luxembourg national Foni Raphaël Lebrun-Ricalens works on developing a quantum computer – a technology that has the potential to revolutionise computing. Recently, he was also asked to evaluate the science behind the ‘quantum realm’ in the final ‘Avengers’ film.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Nina Hentzen

Nina Hentzen, an organic chemist working on the chemical synthesis of collagen, is fascinated by research at the interface of chemistry and biology. The Luxembourg national is in the second year of her AFR PhD at ETH Zürich – and has just been selected to attend the renowned 2017 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad

Adham Ayman Al-Sayyad is a PhD researcher working on multidisciplinary cross-border project. In our article, we explore the Egyptian national’s research around the topic of laser beam joining; why his next step post-PhD would be to spend some time working in industry to understand his research topic from new angles; and his passion for bridging cultures to bring people together.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Antoun Al Absi

Antoun Al Absi has been fascinated by microscopes ever since his parents gave him one as a child. Unsurprisingly, the Syrian-French national cherishes the long hours spent on the microscope as part of his AFR PhD at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH), where he investigates how tumour cells escape the ‘immune surveillance system’, enabling them to spread to other parts of the body.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Jo Hoeser

Ever since he was a child, Jo Hoeser wanted to understand the function of complex systems. He found himself taking apart and trying to fix broken electronic devices. Then fascination for chemistry came into the mix. Fast forward some years and the Luxembourg national completed his AFR PhD in biochemistry at the Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg – and wants to return to the Grand Duchy to continue his career in research.

Spotlight on Young Researchers: Remko Nijzink

Climate change affects vegetation and water resources. In order to understand these changes, scientists use models – an abstract, mathematical representation of an ecological system. The challenge: Making accurate predictions under change, without ‘tuning’ models with data. We speak to Dutch national Remko Nijzink, Postdoc in the group of FNR ATTRACT Fellow Dr. Stan Schymanski at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), about his modelling work and the importance of an open science approach.

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: Towards predicting ageing-related diseases

A rapid increase in both life expectancy and global population size has led to a rise in the prevalence of chronic ageing-associated diseases. Brain and heart age-associated diseases including hypertension, stroke, heart failure, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are leading causes of mortality and disability worldwide. Researchers are working on much-needed ways to predict these diseases.

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