Michelle Mazurek Receives NSF CAREER Award

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Assistant Professor Michelle Mazurek  receives the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for a project titled "Improving the Reliability of Human-Centered Secure-Development Research."

Improving software security is a critical need for the U.S. and the world. In order to solve the problem, an understanding of how human decision-making interacts with technology in the process of secure software development is needed. However, studying these human factors is typically expensive, time-consuming and difficult and the study requires many choices about experimental design while balancing complexity, time and cost constraints, and validity or usefulness of expected results. Also there is little evidence-based guidance about how best to make these choices.

The awarded project aims to help future researchers design better experiments and deploy their resources as effectively as possible by conducting a variety of experiments directly comparing the effects of different experimental design choices on studies of human-centered secure development. The results should help to to improve the validity and reliability of developer-centered security research by empirically establishing best practices and tradeoffs, building on best practices from the usable security and empirical software engineering communities.

Mazurek expects to undertake a series of methodological studies and experiments examining (a) how to design appropriate programming tasks; (b) how to choose a study environment that effectively balances experimental control with ecological validity; and (c) how to measure relevant outcomes such as developer self-efficacy and API usability. The results will provide deep insights into how tradeoffs among design decisions play out in different kinds of studies, allowing researchers to make informed choices that fit best in their context.

In addition to being an Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Mazurek holds a joint appointment in UMIACS and is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

Complete Award Information-


More about the NSF CAREER Awards


More about Mazurek’s research


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