Brian Koziel: Aspiring Cryptography Engineer 

By Yaffi Spodek

Engineering Colleges Showcase High-Tech Talent Pipeline

Meet Brian Koziel, an aspiring cryptography engineer and current Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Brian, a native of Ohio, is studying an innovative and exciting field called post-quantum cryptography, the study of cryptography that is secure in the presence of today's digital computers as well as future quantum computers.

Brian just finished his first year of the doctoral program, where he is working with Reza Azarderakhsh, Ph.D., associate professor and I-SENSE Fellow. They are studying new ways to create useful cryptosystems for our digital society, isogeny algorithm optimizations, and hardware and software implementations.

Brian’s talents and research discoveries have gained national recognition. This year, he was accepted to the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a prestigious and highly competitive program which supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based Master's and doctoral degrees. He has also contributed in publishing several papers in top-tier journals and conferences, including a paper accepted in the IEEE Transaction on Circuits and Systems (TCAS) Journal and two conference papers in the ACNC 2020 conference.

“Brian is a talented, smart, and hardworking student who is very organized and proactive,” said Dr. Azarderakhsh. “He grasps research ideas quickly and contributes strongly for theory and applied research at the same time.”

Although Brian originally planned to become a computer engineer, he soon discovered a passion for cryptography. While earning his bachelors and master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), he held two internships at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Massachusetts.

“I worked in the cryptography group, which had many theoretical and applied aspects of cryptography actively used by the Department of Defense,” Brian explained. “In my first internship, I worked on a Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) that acted as an authentication and device tamper mechanism. My second internship focused on secure computer cache designs. These works ignited a passion in security and cryptography.”

For his master’s research, Brian worked with Dr. Azarderakhsh at RIT on various cryptography applications, and later worked at Texas Instruments on embedded security.

“My ultimate goal is to prepare and aid the US digital infrastructure to transition from quantum-weak to quantum-safe,” he said. “The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently analyzing various post-quantum cryptosystems that could be standardized. We are still in the process of debating the merits of various cryptosystems that are conjectured to be quantum-secure. Following this, standards must be drafted, implementations deployed, and slowly we will migrate all technology such as the internet or communication systems to new post-quantum cryptography. Playing a part in this with my isogeny-based cryptography research has been monumental for me.”