Alumni Spotlight

Andrew West
Profile photo of Andrew West
Senior Research Scientist
Verisign, Inc.
Graduation Year
Tell us about your current position.
As a global leader in domain names and Internet security, Verisign is responsible for the operation of .COM, .NET, a number of other TLDs, and two of the Internet's root servers. As the authoritative registry for over 140 million domains and answering over 125 billion DNS queries daily, Verisign has a wealth of data from which to derive insights.

In my role as a Senior Research Scientist, I apply emergent AI and modeling techniques over our data. Machine learning, deep learning, NLP, and "big data" methodologies are leveraged in supporting a diversity of internal stakeholders. I am also fortunate to have my work reflected externally, in the form of intellectual property and academic publications.
What is your technical background and research interest?
After an undergraduate CS degree at Washington & Lee University, I received both my MSE and PhD degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Computer and Information Science. During my 5 years in Philadelphia, I researched and published across various themes including: reputation/trust management, collaborative security, anti-spam, Web 2.0 abuses, metadata analysis, and applied machine learning.

Since joining Verisign immediately after graduation, my topic space has more narrowly focused on the domain name ecosystem and the opportunities afforded by our big-data infrastructure. That said, there have been plentiful opportunities to re-apply the skills learned in my Penn education, as well as engage with emergent techniques such as deep learning.
What was your involvement at PRECISE?
Having enrolled at Penn in 2007 to work with director Dr. Insup Lee, my experience ran concurrent to the founding of the PRECISE Center. Though most of our research findings were applied outside the cyber-physical domain, the underlying theoretical foundations were/are certainly relevant to the CPS community. For example, our work on trust and reputation management in P2P and collaborative platforms parallels the more modern challenges seen in distributed sensor networks, IoT, etc.

I was fortunate to see PRECISE grow throughout my graduate career, and through continued interaction with old colleagues, it is clear the trajectory is a positive one.

However, my most profound impacts came from faculty leadership and Dr. Lee in particular. His publication record, ability to secure funding, and engagement of corporate partners speak for themselves. More personally, he develops great researchers by giving them the opportunity to navigate topics independently and be unafraid of negative results. This mentorship is my most lucid takeaway - certainly clearer now than as a (potential) student - and a huge contributing factor to my success as a developing professional.