University of Chicago SUPERgroup logo

The UChicago SUPERgroup
Group photo (2023)

The SUPERgroup (Security, Usability, & Privacy Education & Research group) is an interdisciplinary research collective comprising dozens of members at the University of Chicago and is organized by Blase Ur. We collaborate with (and were formerly combined with) the AIR lab. We work at the intersection of computer security, privacy, and HCI, as evidenced by our recent publications. Current projects focus on data-driven methods to improve online security and privacy, as well as improving interaction for both the Internet of Things and machine learning systems.

February 2024 Blase thought about updating this news page, but instead only updated the publications page.
April 2023 SUPERgroup PhD student Kevin Bryson has been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to support his work on ethical AI for the next three years. Congrats, Kevin, on this well-deserved recognition! Keeping with the theme of media, our department's communications team profiled the privacy art class Blase co-taught with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and also profiled Emma's presentation of her team's work at the MSI Robot Block Party.
February 2023 We updated the group members page and took a new group photo (above) for the first time in years. Congrats to Ally, Arthur, Madison, Grant, and Maya for their accepted USENIX Security '23 paper on what it means for a website to be "broken" by a privacy tool. Alongside Divya Sharma from Google, Blase is again going to be co-chairing PEPR '23 (the 2023 USENIX Conference on Privacy Engineering Practice and Respect).
January 2023 Blase failed in his New Year's resolution from last year to update this page more frequently, but will try again for the coming year. However, it's been another great year for SUPERgroup. Weijia completed her Ph.D. and is now a post-doc at Dartmouth, while Will completed his Ph.D. and joined Vetcove. Congrats to the first two SUPERgroup Ph.D. graduates! We had full papers accepted and masterfully presented by the student authors at UIST '22, NAACL '22, USENIX Security '22, and (forthcoming) at UbiComp '23. Congrats to everyone! Jamar, a current undergrad, gets a special award for persistence for the NAACL '22 paper he led since he started that project with us a few years ago while he was still in high school. Over the summer, Blase, Kevin, and Arthur again taught a class about both the good and bad aspects of AI for 25 amazing high school students in the Collegiate Scholars Program.
January 2022 Blase realized that he hasn't updated this news page in a while. Like nine months. RIP. However, so much good stuff has been happening! Sophie was one of four people in the country to receive the CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award! Weijia was one of 82 people in the country to be named a Siebel Scholar! We had a SUPERgroup pumpkin carving event in October, and many members of the group got to meet each other in person for the first time! We also had lots of papers accepted and then masterfully presented by the student authors: three papers at SOUPS '21, two papers at USENIX Security '21, a paper at UIST '21, a paper at UbiComp '21, and a paper at WPES '21. Congrats to Leona, Will, Sophie, and the additional friends of SUPERgroup who lead authored those papers. Alongside Divya Sharma from Google, Blase is going to be co-chairing PEPR '22 (the 2022 USENIX Conference on Privacy Engineering Practice and Respect). This past fall, Blase co-taught a new class with Douglas Pancoast from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). This class, Surveillance Aesthetics, brought together 12 fine arts students from SAIC and 14 computer science students from UChicago to learn about and collaboratively create artworks about privacy and surveillance. Over the summer, Blase, Kevin, and Jamar taught a class about both the good and bad aspects of AI for 25 amazing high school students in the Collegiate Scholars Program. Also, along with Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech), Yan Shvartzshnaider (York), and Marshini Chetty (UChicago), Blase co-chaired the Third Annual Symposium on Applications of Contextual Integrity, which brought dozens of researchers in person to UChicago and dozens more online in one of the few events this fall to have any semblance of the pre-pandemic world. While covid case counts were low for a few months, Blase managed to attend over 40 concerts and also play a few of his own. Blase's new year's resolution for 2022: update this website more frequently.
April 2021 A paper Will led (alongside Galen, Blase, and UChicago collaborators Kyle and Aaron) was accepted to SIGIR 2021. The paper investigates organization and file similarity in personal cloud repositories like Google Drive. Congrats!
March 2021 Wow, what a few weeks. Both of our CHI 2021 papers received honorable mention awards. The first paper, led by Maia Boyd, investigates the security and privacy advice given to BLM protesters. The second paper, led by Valerie Zhao, creates and evaluates novel "diff" interfaces for trigger-action programming. We also received good news about other papers. Congrats to Weijia, Valerie, Olivia, Sabeeka, and Blase, as well as our collaborators Earlence (at Wisconsin) and Josiah (at Northwestern), for their SoK paper on the security of context sensing in smart homes being accepted to EuroS&P 2021. It was also a good time to be a Sophie. A paper Sophie W. led (alongside Valerie, Claire, Olivia, Blase, and UChicago collaborator Hank) was accepted to UMAP 2021. The paper investigates users' preferences for self-aware battery-saving modes on smartphones. A paper Sophie V. led (alongside Daniel, Maddie, Margot, Blase, and UMD collaborators Nathan and Michelle) about data access rights was accepted to be workshopped at the 2021 Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC). Big congrats to everyone!
February 2021 Blase was very honored to receive the NSF CAREER award for the work the amazing students in SUPERgroup are doing. He was especially excited to be one of four UChicago faculty members (including fellow HCI researchers Marshini Chetty and Pedro Lopes) to receive the CAREER award this year.
December 2020 Lots of good news on the paper front. Congratulations to Maia (along with Jamar, Marshini, and Blase) on her paper on security advice given to BLM protesters being accepted to CHI 2021! Congratulations to Valerie (along with Lefan, Bo, Shan, Michael, and Blase) on her paper co-designing algorithms and user interfaces for "diffs" in trigger-action programs also being accepted to CHI 2021! Congratulations to Taha (along with Chris, Shubham, Dimitri, other Chris, Blase, and Elena) on his paper on semi-automatically helping users find sensitive, expendable files in cloud storage being accepted to USENIX Security 2021! Also, a number of people in the lab played Among Us; Blase is definitely sus.
November 2020 Our HCI faculty co-organized an awesome HCI Distinguished Lecture Series that brought six incredible HCI researchers to visit our department (virtually), give a lecture, and meet our students. We were also thrilled to see our department in the top tier of academic sponsors for this year's Grace Hopper Conference and TAPIA Conference.
September 2020 Marshini and her students are branching out in the closely related group, the Amyoli Internet Research Lab or AIR lab. Thank you to SUPERgroup for all the good times and looking forward to many more working together! In addition, along with Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech) and Yan Shvartzshnaider (NYU), Marshini and Blase co-chaired a virtual town hall on the contextual integrity of contact tracing.
August 2020 The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen to fund our EAGER grant on traing mid-career security professionals in machine learning and data-driven cybersecurity, which is a collaboration with Nick Feamster and Yuxin Chen.
July 2020 Congratulations to Lefan, Weijia, Olivia, Valerie, Michael, Shan, and Blase on the acceptance to IMWUT/UbiComp 2020 of their Trace2TAP paper presenting and evaluating a method for turning observations of manual interactions with smart devices into if-this-then-that rules! Congrats are also in order for Su, Fiona, Blase, and Mainack on the acceptance to ICWSM 2021 of their paper qualitatively studying perceptions of retrospective edits to past social media posts!
June 2020 Congratulations to SUPERgroupies Miranda, Maddie, Sophie, Margot, Ben, and Blase (and collaborators Nathan, Justin, Dorota, and Michelle) on the acceptance to USENIX Security 2020 of their paper investigating targeted advertising via study participants' own Twitter data downloads. Also, a warm welcome is in order for the many undergrads and high school students who have joined the SUPERgroup SUMMERgroup (pandemic version) to work on a number of exciting projects.
May 2020 Congratulations to Blase and his former CyLab colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University who were awarded the 2020 Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence for their research on passwords. In other news, Marshini shared her thoughts on technology addiction for the Chicago Booth Big Question. Marshini and her Princeton colleagues also published a short piece on the history of dark patterns and what designers can do about them in ACM Queue.
April 2020 Blase made his fifth appearence in the last two years on Chicago Tonight, this time discussing contact tracing and privacy during pandemics. Most importantly, he used the opportunity of Zoom interviews to broadcast the wonders of the Dorstenia Gigas species to the television sets of the greater Chicagoland area.
March 2020 We've updated our group photo to reflect our new coronavirus reality. In happier news, congrats to Marshini and collaborators on their USENIX Security 2020 paper on South African mobile users' privacy on Facebook and WhatsApp! Congrats to Julia, Miranda, Sophie, Blase, and collaborators Lior and Matthew on their CHI 2020 paper receiving an Honorable Mention award! Congrats to Sophie, Maddie, Blase, and UMD collaborators Nathan and Michelle on their vision paper outlining an agenda for usable data-access rights being accepted to the ConPro 2020 workshop. Sophie, as a second-year undergrad, is now the earliest-stage lead author of a SUPERgroup paper. Oh, and most importantly, SUPERgroup went ice skating twice last month.
January 2020 Congrats to Marshini and Princeton collaborators Michael, Ylana, and Arunesh on their CHI 2020 paper on automatically disclosing online endorsements on YouTube. Congrats also to SUPERgroupies Julia, Miranda, Sophie, Blase, and collaborators Lior (UChicago Law School) and Matthew (Northwestern Law School) on their CHI 2020 paper investigating how receiving a hyper-personalized robotext or banner ad impacts crowdworkers' subsequent disclosure of information. This month, Miranda and Julia gave a great preview talk about this work to the PALS seminar at the UChicago Law School. In funding news, the National Science Foundation (NSF) in collaboration with Amazon has chosen to fund our project on identifying, measuring, and mitigating fairness issues in AI. This project is a collaboration involving Blase (and many SUPERgroupies) at UChicago; Chris Clifton, Lindsay Weinberg, and Christopher Yeomans at Purdue; and Murat Kantarcioglu at UT Dallas. Notably, SUPERgroup's involvement in that grant came about because of a conversation at the Midwest Security Workshop, which is why you should definitely attend this year. Additionally, the NSF awarded a Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SATC) EDU grant to Marshini and collaborators at University of Maryland, College Park, Jessica Vitak and Tamara Clegg. This grant will fund research on helping elementary school aged children learn digital literacy skills, particularly on online privacy and cybersecurity. SUPERgroupies Shriya and Lucy are currrently working on this project. Also, more organizing! Blase is returning as co-chair alongside Peter Mayer for EuroUSEC 2020 (the 5th European Workshop on Usable Security). Furthmore, the 3rd Symposium on Applications of Contextual Integrity (Marshini and Blase are 2 of the 4 co-chairs) is now open for submissions.
December 2019 SUPERgroup is doing some organizing! Along with Helen Nissenbaum (Cornell Tech) and Yan Shvartzshnaider (NYU), SUPERgroup co-directors Marshini and Blase will be co-chairing the 3rd Symposium on Applications of Contextual Integrity. The symposium will be held at UChicago on September 21st-22nd, 2020. Also, for the third year in a row, Blase is again a co-organizer of the Midwest Security Workshop, which will be held this year on April 4th, 2020 at Purdue University.
November 2019 Congrats to PhD students Galen and Julia, as well as our CDAC high school interns Christine and Julio, on their empirical study on perceived fairness of imperfect machine learning models being accepted to FAT* 2020! Blase appeared on Chicago Tonight to discuss Kashmir Hill's fascinating article about secret consumer scores.
October 2019 Some fun (and well-attended) SUPERgroup trips this month to go bowling and also separately to see a fascinating panel on surveillance of black activism at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
September 2019 Congrats to Ben, Miranda, Mainack, Euirim, Shawn, Claire, and our collaborator Michelle on our paper on longitudinal and inference-level communication of third-party web tracking being accepted to CCS 2019. A ton of work went into this paper over the last two years!
August 2019 Very exciting news: Marshini Chetty has joined the University of Chicago from Princeton and is the new co-director of SUPERgroup! In approximately her first act as co-director, she and her co-authors received the distinguished paper award at SOUPS 2019 for their work on how system administrators keep multiple machines updated! SUPERgroupie Miranda Wei tried her best to keep up, receiving a distinguished poster award at SOUPS 2019 for presenting her previously published CCS 2018 paper on password-reuse notifications (with SUPERgroup co-authors Max, Juliette, and Lydia). Back in Chicago, Weijia successfully defended her master's paper on access control for the home IoT. Congrats, all!
July 2019 Congrats to Mainack, Su, Noah, Michael, and our UIC co-authors (Taha, Chris x 2, and Elena) on our paper on retrospectively revisiting Facebook privacy settings being accepted to CCS 2019. Following the Capital One data breach, Blase made his third appearance on Chicago Tonight on local PBS affiliate WTTW to talk about data breaches. Blase also remembered to start updating this website again and subtly filled in the last few months of news.
June 2019 It was time to say goodbye to an amazing group of SUPERgroupies who finished undergrad this year -- Abhi, Amanda, Amy, Ben, Chris, Claire, Dimitri, Euirim, Hayden, Jason, Jesse, Lydia, Mark, Michael, Noah, and Oliver. Many of these members of the class of 2019 were in the first wave of SUPERgroupies who joined in 2017, and you will all be missed! However, we also got to welcome a new group of students to the SUPERgroup SUMMERgroup through the CDAC internship program, REUs, and more: Ally, Christine, Emily, Jamar (for a second year), Julio, Margot, Olivia, and Sophie. We'll look forward to Annika, Leona, and Michelle joining later this summer, too. Also, Blase went to Stockholm to co-chair the EuroUSEC 2019 workshop, which was a lot of fun.
May 2019 So many talks this month. Alex talked about reasoning analytically about password cracking software (watch it on YouTube) at "Oakland" in San Francisco, Will talked about trigger-action programming bugs at CHI in Glasgow, Galen and Julia co-presented on fair ML at the ConPro workshop, and Weijia talked about smart devices being stupid at the SafeThings workshop. Awesome jobs all around!
April 2019 Blase chaired the Midwest Security Workshop (MSW 7), which brought about 230 attendees (including 40 faculty) from 14 institutions to the University of Chicago's new CS building. Thanks to the other members of the MSW organizing committee and the many SUPERgroupies for their huge help in making MSW 7 a success. In addition, congrats to Judah, Bowen, Valerie, Amy, and our co-author Michael as our work on HCI elements of ML data labeling was accepted to INTERACT.
February 2019 After two years of work, our project on reasoning analytically about password-cracking software like John the Ripper and Hashcat will appear at IEEE S&P 2019 ("Oakland"). Congrats to Alex, Amanda, Max, and our collaborator David ("DCash"). In addition, our work understanding how humans understand bugs in trigger-action programs will appear at CHI 2019. Congrats to Will, Abhi, Jillian, Jason, Weijia, and our collaborators Royal and Michael. Particular congrats to Alex, Amanda, Abhi, Jillian, and Jason on their first ever scientific publications!
January 2019 Blase will be co-chairing (with Charles Weir) EuroUSEC 2019 (the 4th European Workshop on Usable Security) on June 20th in Stockholm. He will also be chairing this year's Midwest Security Workshop.
December 2018 Lots of updates. Our work on automatically synthesizing and repairing trigger-action programs will appear at ICSE 2019. We do this based on proerties users specify through a GUI and that are automatically converted to linear temporal logic. This may be the first paper that reports on both Büchi automata and MTurk user studies. (Anyone have a...counterexample?) Congrats to the SUPERgroupies (Weijia, Jesse, and Noah) and UChicago collaborators (Lefan and Shan) involved. Ben Weinshel was named an honorable mention for the national CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award for his work in SUPERgroup over the last two years. Well deserved, Ben! Also, Blase was invited back on PBS (WTTW) for Chicago Tonight to talk about data breaches and how to recover from them.
November 2018 Miranda gave a great talk about some of our recent work on password reuse at PasswordsCon 2018 in Stockholm. Blase was very sad that he couldn't make it to PasswordsCon this year! Blase was also very skeptical about Alexa-enabled microwaves.
October 2018 Blase and his collaborators from the CMU password research group shared the 2018 IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Practice for their body of work on password security. In addition, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen to fund our work on increasing the automation capabilities of the Globus research data management platform, which is a collaboration with Ian Foster and Kyle Chard, both of whom hold joint appointments at UChicago and Argonne National Laboratory.
September 2018 The SUPERgroup SUMMERgroup is making its final push to finish projects before the academic year starts. In addition, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen to fund our work on applying formal methods with trigger-action programming, which is a collaboration with Shan Lu and Ravi Chugh at UChicago, as well as Michael Littman at Brown University.
August 2018 Weijia, Max, Miranda, and Ruba gave great talks at USENIX Security and associated workshops. CNET wrote an article about Ruba's paper on secure messaging (with Elissa, Miranda, and Blase).
July 2018 Our paper on password-reuse notifications will appear at CCS 2018. Congrats Max, Miranda, Juliette, and Lydia, as well as our collaborators Markus and Elissa. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has chosen to fund our work on long-term security privacy through retrospective data management, which is a collaboration with Elena Zheleva and Chris Kanich at UIC. Also, our private browsing paper from WWW 2018 continues to get media coverage, most recently in Consumer Reports. Furthermore, the SUPERgroup SUMMERgroup is in full swing!
June 2018 SUPERgroup will be busy in Baltimore this summer. Miranda and Max's work on site-specific trends in password choice, Wei et al., will fittingly appear at the WAY workshop. Weijia, Juliette, and Roshni's work studying the usability of authentication in the home IoT will appear at the WSSP Workshop. A paper from our collaborators Ruba and Elissa, as well as Miranda, on perceptions of E2E encryption will appear at the FOCI workshop. Mainack (and many others) will be presenting an overview of our work on retrospective privacy and security at the SOUPS 2018 Poster Session.
May 2018 Our paper on rethinking access control and authorization for the home IoT will appear at USENIX Security 2018. Congrats to Weijia, Max, Roshni, Jordan, and our collaborators Markus and Earlence.
April 2018 Blase appeared on Chicago's PBS affiliate (WTTW) to discuss online privacy on the Chicago Tonight program. Along with four others, Blase co-organized the Midwest Security Workshop, which brought 214 researchers from 15 midwestern institutions to UIUC on April 14th, far exceeding the attendance of 60 that we had initially estimated! Work led by Will on draining the data swamp will appear at HILDA 2018. Our work on private browsing was covered by Science News and other outlets. In addition, congrats to Claire/Ben, Taha, and Yuxi/Miranda on giving excellent talks at CHI 2018 and WWW 2018.
March 2018 The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Blase a CRII Grant to support the SUPERgroup's work on improving access control and authentication for the Internet of Things (IoT).
Tracking Transparency at PrivacyConFebruary 2018 Ben and Claire presented the Tracking Transparency group's work at FTC PrivacyCon 2018 in Washington, D.C. They were joined at the conference by Blase and Michelle. In addition, Blase was honored to receive the 2018 ACM SIGCHI Outstanding Dissertation Award.
December 2017 The SUPERgroup will have two papers at CHI 2018. The first paper investigates how aspects of behavioral targeting impact users' privacy perceptions. Congrats Claire, Ben, Shawn, Min, and Euirim (plus our collaborator Michelle)! The second paper identifies the need for retrospective privacy and security management in cloud storage. Congrats Maria (plus our collaborators Taha and Chris)! In addition, our paper examining how web browsers communicate about private browsing mode will appear at WWW 2018. Congrats Yuxi, Panya, and Miranda (plus our collaborators Yasemin and Sascha)! Finally, Blase received a Mozilla Research Grant. Thanks, Mozilla, for supporting the SUPERgroup's work!
Tracking Transparency at SOUPS, Summer 2017July 2017 Team Tracking Transparency won a Distinguished Poster Award at SOUPS 2017. Congrats Aaron, Ben, Claire, Euirim, Min, and Shawn!

If you are potentially interested in working in these or related areas, particularly if you are already at the University of Chicago, please reach out to Blase and Marshini.