Blockchain@UBC Student Research Roundup


Anisha Dhillon, Chelsea Palmer, Jianyu Niu, Artemij Voskobojnikov

Date of Talk


Four of our graduate students will present their research they were involved in during their Summer internship.


Title: Incentives in Blockchains
By Jianyu Niu- Ph.D. student at School of Engineering, University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus)


Selfish mining in Bitcoin has been well studied with various mining strategies proposed and numerous defenses mechanisms suggested. In sharp contrast, selfish mining in Ethereum has not received much attention. Ethereum differs from Bitcoin in that it provides the so-called uncle and nephew rewards in addition to the (standard) block rewards used in Bitcoin. This complicates the analysis. In this talk, we will cover the selfish mining attack in Ethereum to understand its potential threat. Specifically, we will develop some new methods to compute the long-term average mining rewards of the selfish miner. We find that the threshold of making selfish mining profitable in Ethereum is lower than that in Bitcoin. In other words, selfish mining poses a more serious threat to Ethereum due to the presence of uncle and nephew rewards.

Title: Applying technological innovations to respond to COVID-19 Challenges: Orienting Perspectives on public health and privacy for enabling policy decisions
By Anisha Dhillon- Dual Master of Archival Studies and Master of Library and Information Studies student at the UBC School of Information


The COVID-19 Witness Webinar project addresses the focal question: "Can governments respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic with technological innovations, including blockchain, and respect citizen privacy?" The paper and project outcomes represent results of a "Witness Webinar” held on May 5, 2020 that brought together a diverse range of global experts to discuss the focal question and includes an environment scan presenting supplemental research on technologies and approaches being adopted in different countries around the world (including Canada) to address the challenges associated with COVID-19.

Title: Bits Under the Mattress: Understanding Different Risk Perceptions and Security Behaviors of Crypto-Asset Users
By Artemij Voskobojnikov- Ph.D. student at the Department of Computer Science. University of British Columbia


Crypto-assets are unique in tying financial wealth to the secrecy of private keys. Prior empirical work has attempted to study end-user security, from both technical and organizational perspectives. However, the link between individual's risk perceptions and security behavior was often obscured by the heterogeneity of the subjects in small samples. This paper contributes quantitative results from a survey of 395 crypto-asset users recruited by a novel combination of deep and broad sampling. The analysis accounts for heterogeneity with a new typology that partitions the sample in three robust clusters - cypherpunks, hodlers, and rookies, - using five psychometric constructs. The constructs are found in established behavioral theories with items purposefully adapted to the domain. We demonstrate the utility of the suggested typology in better understanding users' characteristics and security behaviors. These insights inform the design of crypto-asset solutions, guide risk communication, and suggest recommendations for future central bank digital currencies.

Title: Blockchain for Climate Foundation: Multidisciplinary Design for an Ethereum Prototype
By Chelsea Palmer- Masters student in Library Science at the UBC School of Information


This presentation will give an overview of a product design collaboration between the presenter (Chelsea Palmer) and Vancouver's Blockchain for Climate Foundation, in which the Foundation's dedicated research and development for "Putting the Paris Agreement on a public blockchain" was crystallized into the scope and specifications for a platform prototype. Chelsea will discuss the diverse toolkit utilized in this collaboration, adapting a "user story"-centred Agile methodology to the multidisciplinary needs of a use case within international climate change coordination. We'll then cover a few higher level points: why the Foundation finds it crucial to position this prototype on the Ethereum blockchain, the importance of privacy-by-design in the decentralized development space, and the deep value our small team found in employing Lemieux & Feng's (2020) "Question-Led System Design Framework" to drive our generative design conversations forward.

External Link

Read the Research Paper

First Nations land acknowledegement

We acknowledge that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm.

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