Charlie Walter Joins Computer and Information Science Faculty

Assistant professor's goals include incorporating digital security in curricula

Charlie Walter, assistant professor of computer science, has helped to introduce an optional emphasis in security in the undergraduate computer science degree program.

A computer security emphasis has been established in the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program at the University of Mississippi, thanks, in part, to Charlie Walter, one of two new assistant professors in the Department of Computer and Information Science.

Walter, along with assistant professor Charles “Chuck” Fleming, worked to add the optional emphasis.

“Dr. Walter’s primary area of interest is ‘personal security,’ and he works a lot with Bluetooth, which is notoriously insecure,” said Dawn Wilkins, chair and professor of computer and information science. “As smartphones and related accessories have become invaluable in our daily lives, the challenges of keeping our personal data secure have grown dramatically. Dr. Walter has many ideas for research projects in this area.”

Walter earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Tulsa. Before coming to Ole Miss, he was a postdoctoral researcher at his alma mater. His research interests also include wearable devices, human-computer interaction, computer science education, software engineering, human trust in machines and self-adaptive systems.

Last fall, Walter taught two special topic courses: one in the Internet of Things and one in mobile and wearable security. This semester, he is teaching a special topic course in self-adaptive systems.

Three of Walter’s short-term goals are to establish a lab focused on examining the security of wearables and other personal-use devices, improve his teaching to better instruct the students on topics he believes are important and to ensure the new emphasis is a success.

“I would like to push for a more digital security-focused curriculum for most of the courses in computer science, as most courses could touch on the security aspect of the project at some point,” Walter said. “I also want to encourage other majors to include some understanding of security of the devices they use for their work.

“I hope to more completely understand the uses and security ramifications of wearable devices. As we move ever closer to implanted devices and wearing a large number of devices all collecting data on our bodies, there is a need for foundational research on the uses and issues with those devices.”

Walter would also like to work toward improving computer education from elementary school to high school in the state.

“Computer literacy in schools is often lacking and can result in a significant boost to the students in both college and in the workforce, even if they do not go into a computing-related field,” he said.

Wilkins said Walter has already become a valued addition to the faculty.

“He is an entertaining and enthusiastic lecturer, and his area of research is very interesting,” she said.

Walter said he is enjoying working with his students and colleagues as well.

“They have been amazing,” he said. “My colleagues are doing interesting work and have been very supportive. The students have also been amazing, with a number asking about research opportunities and many that are interested in a wide range of topics related to the field.”

For leisure, Walter enjoys watching movies, playing video games, cooking and hiking.