GAANN Fellowship in Cyber-Security of Power Systems

The Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship in Cyber-Security of Power Systems is available for graduate students who intend to become university teachers and/or researchers. Fellows must pursue an interdisciplinary course of study, combining a major in one of the participating departments with a minor and research project in power systems. The Fellowship is awarded based on academic performance and financial need, upon the recommendation of the student’s department and approval by the Graduate School and the Fellowship Program Selections Committee.

To be eligible for consideration, the student must:

  1. Be enrolled full-time in (or admitted to) a doctoral program (Master’s leading to doctoral permitted) in one of the programs offered through departments participating in the cyber-security program – Electrical and Computer Engineering; Computer Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering.
  2. Pursue an interdisciplinary course of study with a minor and research project in power systems.
  3. Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or a permanent resident of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands;
  4. Be committed to a career in university teaching and/or research;
  5. Have an outstanding undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate academic record (cumulative grade point average), as well as excellent scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytic writing sections of the Graduate Record Examination;
  6. Have demonstrable identified financial need, determined according to federal guidelines. Financial need is based on information supplied by each student on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

How to Apply

Step 1: Apply to the PhD program in the ECE department

Step 2: After that, please e-mail Dr. Mesut Baran at expressing your intent to apply for the GAANN fellowship. Please reference your application number from Step 1 in the main text of this e-mail.


Special Program Features:

  1. Fellowship Stipend: Up to $34,000 annually, depending on financial need. Most fellows typically qualify between $21,000 and $23,000 annually. (Fellows may have supplemental departmental support only to the extent that such support is justified by an assessment of financial need in excess of $34,000.)Financial need will be reassessed annually. Fellows are required to complete a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.
  2. Tuition, Fees, and Health Insurance: The in-state portion of tuition and fees will be paid directly by the Graduate School to the Cashier’s Office. Out-of-state tuition remission will be provided by the Fellow’s graduate program (in accordance with Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP) guidelines). Health insurance will be provided to all Fellows.
  3. Book, Equipment, Supply and Travel Allowance: The amount, if awarded, is determined annually. Please see the guidelines and administrative procedures for using these funds.
  4. Registration: Fellows must be full-time graduate students. Please see section 3.15 of the Graduate Administrative Handbook for full-time registration requirements. Fellows must be engaged in full-time coursework or research during each summer session. At no time during the Fellowship period may a GAANN Fellow engage in gainful employment other than part-time employment involved in teaching, research, or similar activities determined by the Graduate School to be in support of progress toward the degree.
  5. Teaching Experience and Other Activities: Each Fellow is required to have a two-semester supervised teaching experience during his or her doctoral program, preferably during the period supported by the Fellowship. This requirement could be fulfilled by participation for one year in the Preparing the Professoriate (PTP) program.Alternative plans for meeting the teaching experience requirement are possible but must be approved by the Program Director.Fellows will have the opportunity to participate in special activities such as interdisciplinary seminars, retreats and professional meetings.
  6. Renewal of GAANN Fellowship: Contingent upon the availability of funds, the Fellow’s graduate program has the option (but not the obligation) of re-nominating a Fellow for up to one additional year of GAANN fellowship support, provided that a) the Fellow is maintaining satisfactory progress in his or her doctoral program, as certified by his or her advisor and Director of Graduate Programs, b) the Fellow is maintaining a 3.5 GPA, and c) the Fellow’s research focus remains in cyber-security of power systems.

Additional Requirements:

  • The Fellow’s advisor must be a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty.
  • The Fellow must engage in an on- or off-campus project designed to promote cyber-security education.
  • A member of the GAANN Power System Cyber-Security Fellowship Committee must be included as a “normal” or an ad hoc (i.e., non-voting) member of the Fellow’s thesis advisory committee. In either case, the Fellow should include his or her GAANN representative in the activities of his or her committee such as meetings to discuss his or her progress, plan of work, etc. The faculty listed below are members of the GAANN Power System Cyber-Security Fellowship Committee:
Mesut Baran

Mesut Baran


Keystone Science Center 147

Aranya Chakrabortty

Aranya Chakrabortty


Keystone Science Center 20

Mo-Yuen Chow

Mo-Yuen Chow

Professor Emeritus

Engineering Building II (EB2) 2056

Alexandra Duel-Hallen

Alexandra Duel-Hallen


Engineering Building II (EB2) 2096

Ning Lu

Ning Lu


100-29 Keystone

Wenyuan Tang

Wenyuan Tang

Assistant Professor

Keystone Science Center 24

Wenye Wang

Wenye Wang


Engineering Building II (EB2) 3056

Description of Research Projects

Detection, Localization and Mitigation of Cyber Attacks in Power Transmission Systems using Machine Learning Techniques

(Chakrabortty, Duel-Hallen)

The goal of this research is to develop algorithms that can detect the identities of malicious data manipulators in distributed optimization and control loops in large-power system models using massive volumes of Synchrophasor data. If these data are compromised suitably by malicious attackers that can result in dangerously incorrect control actions, creating instabilities and cascading failures. Our goal is to use the potential of machine learning algorithms such as reinforcement learning, deep learning, and kernel-based methods by which this instability can be quickly detected, the identities of the compromised controllers can be revealed, and corrective actions can be taken. The approach will be to bring together various research ideas from optimization, control theory, and machine learning, and apply them for cyber-security of power systems.

Economics of Cyber-Security

(Duel-Hallen, Chakrabortty)

The goal of this research is to develop resource-planning games between attackers and defenders in power system networks. The mission is to protect the resources that go towards building various controllers and their associated communication mechanisms in these critical infrastructures. Various ideas from game theory such as mixed strategy games, Stackelberg games, and dynamic games will be developed to model the interaction between attackers and defenders. Game-theoretic notions such as Mixed Strategy Nash Equilibrium (MSNE) will be used to allocate the players’ resources for attacking or protecting the important network nodes. The approach will be to bring together various research ideas from optimization, game theory, control theory, communication theory, and machine learning, and apply them for cyber-security resource planning in power systems.

Cyber-Attack Modeling and Defending

(Lu, Baran, Tang)

The goal of this research is to model cyber-attacks and develop detection and mitigation mechanisms on a real-time hardware-in-the-loop cyber-attack test system. The developed test system will allow attackers to launch attacks on a hardware-in-the-loop system via different communication protocols. It will also allow defenders to develop control mechanisms that can withstand different levels of cyber sabotage.

A transmission- distribution co-simulation platform developed on an 8-core OPAL-RT will be used to host the attack model and for the development of the defending mechanisms.  The PHD students involved in this project will be expected to

  1. Develop attacker models and design scenarios for testing their models.
  2. Develop defender models and methods for defending the cyber-attacks.
  3. The students are required to have general backgrounds in electrical engineering, power systems, communication, or computer science.
  4. The students will learn to use hardware-in-the-loop simulation software for modeling power systems.

Detection and Mitigation of Cyber Attacks in Electricity Markets

(Tang, Baran, Lu)

Cyber-attacks not only impair power system operations, but also market settlements including prices. For example, intruding into other market participants’ systems can learn their private bidding curves, and therefore manipulate the market. The goal of this research is to detect cyber-attacks at the market level by exploring the market data on top of the operational data. Here markets are understood in a broad sense, which can be wholesale electricity markets, demand response programs between aggregators and participants, and the emerging peer-to-peer energy trading markets. The PhD students are expected to follow an interdisciplinary approach which combines optimization, game theory, and data science to tackle this innovative topic.

Cybersecurity in Smart Grid IoT

(Chow, Wang)

Today’s smart grid harnesses a vast amount of distributed energy resources that transformed the smart grid to a decentralized Internet-of-things (IoT). This research aims to address the cyber-security issues in the distributed controlled smart grid IoT via an interdisciplinary approach that combines algebraic graph theory, control theory, operation research, data science, and networking theory. The researcher is expected to systematically model and assess the adversaries, cyber assets, threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in several key applications, such as state estimation, energy management system, etc. Based on the cyber-security model, the student is expected to propose resilient distributed counter-measures for different attack scenarios. The final models and algorithms will be validated in computer simulations and hardware prototypes.

For any question regarding this Fellowship program, please contact Terri Kallal (University Program Specialist) at, or Dr. Mesut Baran at