Yan Receives Inaugural President's Initiatives Award

Albany, NY (May 15, 2015) - Zheng Yan, associate professor in Educational Psychology and Methodology, received a UAlbany Presidential Initiatives Fund for Research and Scholarship Award for his proposal, The Best Firewall Project: Solving the 20-Year Puzzle Innovatively.

The newly established Presidential Initiatives Fund supports innovative research that will enhance UAlbany faculty’s ability to compete for large-scale, interdisciplinary, single and multi-investigator awards.  Dr. Yan's was among the 14 proposals selected this year out of 69 applications.

Cybersecurity has been a major national challenge for over two decades. Since 1991, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) alone has produced seven major research reports summarizing various types of technical and nontechnical strategies to meet the challenge. However, as CSTB reported, “there is a deep frustration that research and recommendations do not seem to translate easily into deployment and utilization” and “relatively little progress has been made in cybersecurity”. This is why it has become a 20-year puzzle.

Dr. Yan plans to use the Disruptive Innovation approach, coined by Clayton Christensen,
to empirically examine this decades-long puzzle. He will conduct a pilot study to develop and validate an instrument for assessing and diagnosing college students’ conceptual understanding of cybersecurity. This study is the first step in completing a grant proposal for the National Science Foundation’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace program, aiming to eventually solve the 20-year puzzle and build the best firewall for cybersecurity.

Dr. Yan's research mainly concerns dynamic and complex relations between contemporary technologies and human development. He has been studying three technology-based human behaviors: (1) computer behavior (e.g., how students learn to use computer software. how computer users develop Computer Vision Syndrome), (2) cyber behavior (e.g., how children understand the technical and social complexity of Internet, how Internet users make online decisions), and (3) mobile phone behavior (e.g., how school mobile phone policies impact learning and teaching, how mobile phone multitasking produces academic distraction). He is the co-editor of International Journal of Cyber Behavior, Psychology and Learning.

Read the University Press Release.