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Secure and Privacy-Preserving FAIR Data Vault Aggregation and Analysis

   Department of Computer Science

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  Dr D Kolovos, Dr S Gerasimou  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

About the Project 

The York-Maastricht project on Responsible Data Science ( investigates novel mechanisms and technologies for moving, storing, and accessing personal (or otherwise sensitive) information, from centralised databases which are vulnerable to large-scale data leaks and irresponsible data mining, to data vaults stored in end-user devices that comply to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles. While this would have been impractical a decade ago, contemporary end-user devices and growing mobile network speeds now make this technically possible. In particular, the project investigates solutions for several challenges related to such a disruptive change in personal data persistence, such as:

  • enabling 3rd parties to be granted access to FAIR data vaults in a fully auditable manner
  • generating signatures for extracted information in support of provenance in data use
  • replicating data in a secure way to minimise the impact of device loss or theft

This PhD project will explore an architecture for querying large numbers of FAIR data vaults to extract aggregate information in a way that ensures privacy and security. This will be achieved by breaking down queries and data into units of work which are meaningless when viewed in isolation, and then delegating the execution of these work units to peers of a computation network comprising end-user devices (fog). Since such devices (and hence the results of their computations) cannot be trusted a priori, the architecture will facilitate Byzantine fault tolerance mechanisms for identifying and isolating untrustworthy nodes of the network as well as mechanisms for rewarding the contribution of computational resources (using techniques similar to those offered by cryptocurrencies)

Funding for this project is provided by the Doctoral Centre for Safe, Ethical and Secure Computing (

Research Supervision 

Professor Dimitris Kolovos, Professor of Software Engineering (

Dr Simos Gerasimou, Lecturer (

Applicants will also be expected to engage with The York-Maastricht Partnership project on Data Science. ( 

Apply for this Studentship

To be considered for this funding you must meet the entry requirements for a PhD in Computer Science at the University of York. You need to apply online for a full-time PhD in Computer Science (

Please note that this project is only available to UK Home students. We will look favourably on applicants with strong object-oriented software design and development skills.

When applying, please quote the project title (Secure and Privacy-Preserving FAIR Data Vault Aggregation and Analysis) in your application.

There is no need to write a full formal research proposal (2,000-3,000 words) in your application to study as this studentship is for a specific project. 

You must also provide a personal statement of 500-1,00 words with your initial thoughts on the research topic.

You are also required to fill in the accompanying form for the Doctoral Centre for Safe, Ethical and Secure Computing to demonstrate how you intend to engage with the Centre during your studies.

In the section that asks for a Proposed Supervisor’s Statement, please leave the title of this studentship again: Secure and Privacy-Preserving FAIR Data Vault Aggregation and Analysis. 

The deadline for applications is September 6th. We hope to conduct interviews on September 20th. 

The studentship will begin October 2021.

Funding Notes

If successful, you will be supported for three years. Funding will include Home/UK Fees (£4,500 2021/22 rate) and an annual stipend (£15,609 2021/22 rate).

Funding Notes

Funding will include Home/UK Fees (£4,500 2021/22 rate) and an annual stipend (£15,609 2021/22 rate)
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