Carmela Troncoso 2022 EPFL Latsis Laureate
IC Tenure Track Assistant Professor Carmela Troncoso has won this year’s EPFL Latsis University Prize.
Carmela Troncoso is passionate about building a privacy-preserving digital society and for her work in this field she has been recognized by the Latsis Foundation for exceptionally important contributions at a Swiss university by researchers under the age of 40.
Troncoso’s work focuses on protecting our digital traces using privacy-preserving technology. Today, these are ubiquitous and have become a rich source of information about us and our environment. Increasingly, this loss of privacy results in harms to people and society.
How to design and deploy privacy-preserving systems is not well-understood and this is where Troncoso’s SPRING Lab in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences comes in. The lab’s research aims at supporting software engineers in developing complex systems in a privacy-preserving way. Examples include cryptographic techniques that enable journalists to digitally share relevant documents for their investigations without endangering themselves or their sources; mechanisms to notify those who have been close to a COVID-infected person without revealing any identities or behaviors to any third party; and protocols to enable NGOs to use biometrics without causing harms to the people they aim to help.
Troncoso's team also designs tools that help engineers evaluate the effectiveness of privacy-preserving mechanisms to prevent information leaks. Among others, they have demonstrated that recently-proposed privacy-preserving network protocols, such as encrypted DNS, are far from sufficient to protect the privacy of users; and that synthetic data cannot be used to unleash the power of machine learning without privacy risks for users.
“Privacy is a fundamental right. It is essential for freedom and is a cornerstone of democracy. I am thankful to the Latsis Foundation for this award that recognizes the importance of fighting for privacy so that digitalization does not mark the end of our rights,” said Troncoso. “I would also like to thank the members of my research group whose effort and creativity have helped bring my research ideas from paper to reality to protect so many people online.”
The Latsis Foundation has been awarding the Latsis Prizes in Switzerland since 1983. Four University Latsis Prizes of CHF 25,000 each, as well as the National Latsis Prize of CHF 100,000, are awarded each year. Carmela Troncoso’s 2022Latsis Prize will be awarded during the EPFL Research and Doctoral Awards Ceremony, to be held at the Rolex Center on November 14.