Department of Computer Science awarded $100K Air Force Research Laboratory contract

February 10, 2017




Jackson State University’s Department of Computer Science was recently awarded a $100,000 research contract on a project titled “A Stable Trustworthy Neighborhood Scheme for Secure Mobile Sensor Networks.” This effort is funded by the Airforce Research Laboratory (AFRL) and supports research at the Information Directorate, Rome NY, through a prime contract with Universal Technology Corporation (subcontractor Clarkson Aerospace Corporation, Houston TX).

Dr. Natarajan Meghanathan, a tenured professor in JSU’s Department of Computer Science, is the Principal Investigator (PI) on this research effort that has a one-year period of performance.

The primary focus of the research is to actively engage minority US students in some of the cutting-edge emerging research areas such as Mobile Sensor Networks, Cyber Security and Network Science. A total of four undergraduate students and one graduate student to date have been funded under this effort.

“I believe the contract is a unique opportunity for our students to gain tangible exposure to cutting-edge research. Particularly in terms of the practical concepts and theories that govern modern mobile sensor networks,” says Dr. Jessie J. Walker, chair of the computer science department.

Meghanathan explains the advantage with mobile sensors (compared to using fixed sensors), is one could collect data from a larger area with fewer sensors. The tradeoff is the overhead that comes with managing the mobility of the sensors and the integrity of the data collected.images

The research conducted by Meghanathan and his team seeks to address some of the challenges that arise with the use of mobile sensors and reduce the impact of the management overhead on the resource-constrained sensor devices. More specifically, Meghanathan and his team are investigating the use of Network Science techniques to quantify the stability and trustworthiness of links in mobile sensor networks without requiring to know the location and mobility information of the nodes.

AFRL sees the need to emphasize the kinds of research conducted by Meghanathan and his team. “Dr. Meghanathan’s application of Network Science techniques and methodologies for the enhancement of security and overall performance in mobile sensor networks shows promise for use in future Air Force communication systems required to operate in contested, degraded, or operationally limited airborne environments,” says Mr. Robert Riley, the AFRL Technical Point of Contact responsible for oversight of this particular effort on behalf of the Government.

imgres-4Riley conducts in-house research and oversees external efforts like Meganathan’s that are exploring innovative mobile ad hoc networking approaches to address needs for the Air Force’s Aerial Layer Networking (ALN) concept. More information on the Air Force’s ALN concept can be found at

Cutting-edge companies like Garmin and EpiSensor are examples of the types of businesses that can also benefit from their research.

This research is typical of graduate and doctoral students, but Meghanathan says, “The ML RCP award is very useful to train the minority undergraduate students to pursue high-quality research by building on top of the knowledge obtained from their regular coursework and motivate them to publish peer-reviewed articles as well as apply for graduate schools.”

For example, a conference paper titled, “Jaccard similarity-based quantification of the neighborhood stability of a node in mobile sensor networks,” was co-authored with an undergraduate student and has been recently accepted for presentation at the SPIE Defense and Security Conference in Anaheim, CA, April 9-13, 2017.

For additional information on the AFRL Minority Leaders Research Collaboration Program, please contact the overall Government Program Manager, Ms. Asheley Blackford at

The public release approval number for this article is 88ABW-2017-0527.