Meet ACM Fellow – Pierangela Samarati

In the early days of 2022, ACM has recognised 71 computer scientists as Fellows.  The ACM Fellows program recognises the top 1% of ACM members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community. Fellows are nominated by their peers, with nominations reviewed by a distinguished selection committee. Professor Pierangela Samarati is one of the women computer scientists from Europe recognised this year. 

Pierangela Samarati

Pierangela Samarati is a full professor of Computer Science at the University of Milano, Italy, where she leads the Security Privacy and Data Protection Laboratory. She has also been a Computer Scientist in the Computer Science Laboratory at SRI, CA (USA). In addition, she has been a visiting researcher at the Computer Science Department of Stanford University, CA (USA), and the Center for Secure Information Systems, George Mason University, VA (USA).

Professor Samarati is a world-renowned researcher and leader with high impact research and technology contributions to data security and privacy. She has participated in and coordinated several projects funded by the European Commission and the Italian Ministry of Research. She has also received funding from Google and JP Morgan Chase. More recently, she has served as coordinator for EU H2020 research and innovation projects on data security and privacy in the cloud and in digital data markets, leading consortiums comprising academic partners as well as companies like IBM, SAP, DELL-EMC, and BT. The projects aimed to devise effective and efficient solutions to enable data owners to control their data, ensuring proper protection of private, sensitive and confidential information in emerging scenarios. 

Her research work has been published in more than 280 papers in peer-reviewed venues. She has also been named IEEE Fellow and IFIP Fellow for her research contributions. In addition, she has received the IEEE Computer Society Technical Achievement Award, the ESORICS Outstanding Research Award, the IFIP TC11 Kristian Beckman, and the IFIP WG 11.3 Outstanding Research Award.

Professor Samarati directs the Security, Privacy, and Data Protection Laboratory (SPDP Lab). Her main area of research focuses on understanding how we better protect our data, regulate access, sharing, and release, as well as safeguard sensitive and confidential information from improper exposure. She finds that always new challenges open up in data protection due to new scenarios or changing technologies. Even though data protection may have been considered niche 30 years ago, it draws the attention of many researchers today. She finds it appealing that while her area of research entails several theoretical challenges, it also has an undeniable practical impact that can benefit society. 

I find particularly rewarding when you see your work having an impact, being picked up, followed and recognised by the community building on your results.”

She considers working in academia fulfilling as she profoundly enjoys research, finding new challenges, addressing them, brainstorming with others, and devising solutions. 

“It is part of my life and what I am. Despite the energy and efforts you put in, it does not feel like work since it is what you like to do. I like care, attention, and rigour. My guiding philosophy has always been to try to do my best and make a difference in everything I am doing. What makes me happy is when I am able to transfer the same passion and enthusiasm to others and to the young generations.”

Heartfelt congratulations to Professor Samarati!

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