Nada Lachtar and Dania Ammar are the first University of Michigan-Dearborn students to receive Rackham Predoctoral Fellowships. Both students are in doctoral programs in the UM-Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS), which began a formal partnership with Rackham in 2019.
Both recipients are engaged in research on high profile topics in their respective fields. Lachtar, a Ph.D. candidate in computer and information science, is developing new solutions to ransomware attacks, which became a major cybersecurity threat in 2016. These include a machine learning threat detection system with a 99 percent detection rate and operating system-level defenses. Ammar, a Ph.D. candidate in industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, is designing human-machine interfaces to help pedestrians and autonomous vehicles safely coexist. This includes developing systems for autonomous vehicles to provide signals to pedestrians—such as assurances the vehicle detects them and cues that they are safe to cross in front of the vehicle while walking—that mimic human interactions and are easily understood.
“The fellowship puts students in a much stronger position to launch their careers,” says Brahim Medjahed, assistant dean of CECS and Rackham associate dean of academic programs and initiatives for UM-Dearborn. “And it’s also obviously a great thing for a resume because it’s a highly competitive and prestigious fellowship.”
The Rackham predoctoral fellowship provides a stipend and doctoral candidacy tuition and fees for especially promising doctoral students in the final year of their program.