Q & A
with Dr. Xu Lin
Ph.D.: Philosophy and Computer Science, University of Illinois
In general terms, what does your research consist of? How would you explain it to a class of freshmen?
My research focuses on security and privacy on the Web. The Web is a big part of our daily lives, offering us a wealth of services and applications. However, as technology gets more advanced, hackers also find new ways to break into our online accounts and access our personal information without permission. These attacks can cause serious problems for individuals and organizations. Therefore, my objectives are to investigate the Web’s threat landscape and develop effective countermeasures to enhance user protection.
What have you learned from your work that surprised you?
“The Internet gave us access to everything; but it also gave everything access to us.”- James Veitch
If you could name one person who inspires you, who would it be and why?
My grandmother, Xueru Gong, was my first teacher. She showered me with unconditional love. She taught me valuable life lessons like playing chess and poker, overcoming my fear of spiders, and caring for bunnies. Her wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor constantly motivate me to improve and become a better person.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or researching?
In my spare time, I like watching Sci-Fi & Fantasy shows on the couch with Sake, my cat. I also enjoy exploring different restaurants, traveling, and simply taking time to relax.
If you hadn’t gone into academia, what do you think you would have done instead?
I could have pursued a captivating career in archaeology, delving into the mysteries of the past and embracing the spirit of adventure like Indiana Jones.
What advice do you have for students?
Don’t be discouraged by temporary failures. See them as chances to learn and grow on your path to success. Be productive, avoid putting things off, and make the most of your time. Remember to take breaks and spend quality time with loved ones.
What are the most rewarding and most difficult parts of your work?
The most rewarding part is to witness the real-world impact of the work. The most challenging part could be debugging someone else’s code without documentation.