Cyber research academic honoured in New Year awards list
A University of Wolverhampton academic has been awarded an MBE in the 2023 New Year Honours List.
Professor Prashant Pillai, Associate Dean for Research and Knowledge Exchange and Centre Director for the Midlands Centre for Cyber Security at the University of Wolverhampton, will receive the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) at a ceremony being held at Buckingham Palace next year.
The New Year Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. An MBE is an award given by the King to an individual for outstanding service to the community or local 'hands on' service.
Professor Pillai’s education and training is in Electronics and IT security with interest in Artificial Intelligence and he has over 20 years’ award-winning success behind him, recognised for his progressive vision and academic leadership.
He has led numerous research projects in the areas of networking protocols and cyber security. His current role as Director of the partnership project in Herefordshire - Cyber Quarter – The Midlands Centre for Cyber Security - sees him pursuing the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and developing novel security solutions for safety-critical systems. His research aims to understand and solve security threats in cyberspace, expanding knowledge of cyber-crime on a large scale, with the aim of protecting the smart cities of the future.
Throughout his career, Professor Pillai has been recognised for his research efforts, including awards for performance recognition, best paper, excellence in achievement, and excellent achievement in research. He has also delivered several keynote talks, invite talks, and panel talks, to sharing his vast knowledge and specialisations with colleagues and partners from across the world.
Professor Pillai has attained an enormous number of accomplishments in the 20 years since studying his Master’s degree in Informatics. He has published over 100 papers furthering international understanding of cybercrime, systems, security, and other associated topics. He continues to develop innovative education programmes and direct important research projects to increase global understanding of the threats we face as technology continues to progress. Professor Pillai is also globally renown for positively transforming academic departments and research groups, driven by his willingness to lead and empower those he works alongside, building groups and organisations into bodies with positive working cultures and thriving levels of success.
The work that Professor Pillai had dedicated his life to is important to almost every aspect of society and helps to ensure that the systems of the future remain safe from malicious influence and harm
Professor Pillai was invited to join the UK Government Cybersecurity Advisory Board (GCAB) earlier this year. The Government Cyber Security Strategy (GCSS) was launched in January 2022 outlining the vision to ensure that core government functions are resilient to cyber attack, strengthening the UK as a sovereign nation and cementing its authority as a democratic and responsible cyber power.
Professor Pillai said: “I was overwhelmed to have been included in this year’s awards for my contribution to cyber research – a subject that I’m passionately committed to and have endeavoured to highlight during my 20-year career in research.
“As the world becomes ever more reliant upon technology and smart systems to ensure the functionality of transport, financial tech, hospitals, data, and (one day) entire cities, it has never been more essential to understand and protect against the threats posed by hackers and cyber criminals who want to do harm.
“I am honoured and humbled to be recognised in the New Year’s honours list. Working as an academic and contributing to cyber security teaching and research has been a core part of my life for over 20 years and it is incredibly special to be recognised for this. I have worked with several incredible people and businesses over the years and would like to thank them all for their support.
“I hope my award helps to inspire other researchers to understand and recognise the transformational impact that their work can bring, and also hope it will help bring cyber security to the forefront. The West Midlands is growing its cyber ecosystem and we need more businesses and individuals to work together to ensure our systems and networks are cyber resilient. The University is playing a leading role in bringing the regional cyber ecosystem together along with key regional and national stakeholders.”
Tim Steele, Pro Vice Chancellor International and Regional Development at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “On behalf of everyone at the University of Wolverhampton, I would like to congratulate Prashant on this prestigious and very well-deserved honour.
“The impact he has made on the community and industry is well documented.
“He was appointed to lead cybersecurity research and he leads our cyber security in the Marches LEP area and further afield – extending his reach to India and raising the profile of the region’s potential to contribute to this area nationally and internationally.
“He also provides much needed training, advice and guidance to industry. His work has been recognised by his peers and he is acknowledged globally as an outstanding academic who provides leadership in research, business engagement and education in his wider field of computer science.”
The University clinched a top award for ‘Cyber University of the Year’ at this year’s The National Cyber Awards 2022 as well as scooping a key award at this year’s TSC Innovation Awards 2022 in the category ‘Tech Innovation – Organisation Sector’.
The Midlands Centre for Cyber Security is a joint venture between the University of Wolverhampton and Herefordshire Council and is part-funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund, via the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The cyber team has engaged with over 100 businesses, assisted nearly 60 SMEs to improve their cyber defences, started 30 cyber related Research and Development projects and supported over 19 new to firm or new to market products. The academic team has also helped set up 5 new cyber related spin-out companies and are leading several regional and national Cyber networks.
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