Fletcher Recognized With Intel Rising Star Faculty Award

9/20/2021 1:27:16 PM

Assistant Professor Christopher Fletcher, an expert in secure processor design, was 1 of 10 faculty nationwide to win a 2021 Intel Rising Star Faculty Award. An Illinois CS faculty member since 2017, Fletcher is developing low-overhead, principled defenses to microarchitectural attacks and discovering next-generation microarchitectural vulnerabilities before they hit the market.

Christopher Fletcher
Christopher Fletcher

The 2018 Spectre and Meltdown attacks exposed microprocessor vulnerabilities and made it clear that hardware interfaces leak program privacy.  Fletcher's work provides innovative solutions to these types of problems, which show that performance and security are not mutually exclusive.  His ideas are at times counter intuitive.  For example, Spectre attacks were born from so-called hardware predictors.  Yet, Fletcher shows how to efficiently block Spectre by adding more predictors.  

His stature in the research community is evidenced by his leadership as the lead investigator on a multi-university Intel Strategic Research Alliance Center that studies processor security.  He also sits on the DARPA ISAT study group which is responsible for bringing critical, looming topics to DARPA's attention.

The Rising Star Faculty Award isn’t Fletcher’s only recognition from Intel. His paper, “Speculative Data-Oblivious Execution: Mobilizing Safe Prediction for Safe and Efficient Speculative Execution,” won the inaugural 2021 Intel Hardware Security Academic Award. In 2020, he received the Intel Outstanding Researcher Award from Intel's Corporate Research Council.

Among his other accolades, Fletcher has received an NSF CAREER Award and Google Faculty Award.

The Intel Rising Star Faculty Award promotes the careers of professors who are early in their academic research careers and who show great promise as future academic leaders in disruptive computing technologies. The program also fosters long-term collaborative relationships with senior technical leaders at Intel.