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Annabelle Theobald

Busy Beaver Award for CISPA Faculty Dr. Yang Zhang

Saar University students honor the CISPA researcher for his outstanding teaching.

Computer science students have honored CISPA faculty Dr. Yang Zhang with the "Busy Beaver Award" for his special commitment to teaching in the winter semester of 2021/22. Every semester, the Computer Science Department of Saarland University awards the prize to lectures and seminars that have been rated outstandingly well by the students. Among them this year is Yang Zhang's seminar "Privacy of Machine Learning," in which the researcher gives students an insight into the latest developments and current state of research in the field of privacy in machine learning.

"I am very happy to receive this award and would like to thank the students and my assistants Rui Wen, Xinlei He, and Zheng Li for their hard work during the semester." Yang Zhang is a researcher at heart and regularly publishes his papers at the top conferences in the field of IT security. However, his commitment to teaching is as important to him as his research work. "Publications are an important criterion for judging a researcher these days. But for me, teaching is just as important, especially when I can inform others about the latest research results I am working on. Also, teaching sometimes gives me ideas for research."

In addition to the additional impetus CISPA faculty receive for their own work, he enjoys seeing how the students are continuously developing. "I really enjoy interacting with the students in the seminars, and I find that their questions become more in-depth as the semester goes on. In the last few seminars, I felt that many students are already mature researchers in this field. That's really rewarding."

Last semester, the Corona pandemic again presented challenges to faculty and students. "I have never personally met any of the students I have taught over the past two years. This must be very difficult for the students, as the exchange with fellow students is very important for many lectures and seminars. I sincerely hope that the situation will improve soon."

Dr. Yang Zhang has already been at CISPA since 2017. He was first a postdoc in Michael Backes' group, then became a research group leader, and has been a CISPA faculty member since 2020. In addition to his research on privacy in machine learning, Zhang is working on social network analysis and algorithmic fairness.

translated by Oliver Schedler