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Research Talks

Title Researcher(s) Bio Abstract Watch on YouTube
Blockchain@UBC Monthly Research Talk- July 21st- Dr. Victoria Lemieux
Victoria Lemieux
Victoria L. Lemieux is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia School of Information. Her interests include risk to the availability of trustworthy records, in particular in blockchain record keeping systems, and how these risks impact upon transparency, financial stability, public accountability and human rights. Between 2014-2016, Dr. Lemieux worked with the World Bank on transparency and information management to support economic and social development, leading to various big data analytics projects and winning the Bank’s Big Data Innovation Award in 2015. In 2016, Dr. Lemieux founded, Blockchain@UBC, a multidisciplinary blockchain research cluster and in 2019 NSERC awarded her a CREATE grant to establish a multidisciplinary blockchain graduate program at UBC. Dr. Lemieux has won several awards for her research and professional contributions to the field of archives and records management.

There is a news story almost every day about how individuals’ personal data are being harvested, shared with and used by third parties without their consent and in ways that have real potential to cause harm. The result is an erosion of user trust and a reluctance to use services that gather sensitive information. This remains true for a significant percentage of individuals even if they could greatly benefit from receiving a personalized health service that they can use to understand their health risks and maintain or improve their overall health. Individuals’ reluctance may stem from uncertainty about how health data services will store and use their data over time. Recent revelations about how Facebook, 23&Me, and other platforms use individuals’ sensitive personal data validates concerns that consumers’ data may be shared with third parties without their informed consent. This presentation discusses how the' Personal Health Wallet Project, a collaboration between Molecular You, the University of British Columbia, StonePaper, and the Digital Technology Supercluster is addressing these concerns by enabling self-sovereign health records management. Information on the project is available.

Blockchain@UBC Monthly Research Talk- June 30th- Dr. Mohammad Jalalzai
Mohammad M. Jalalzai is a postdoctoral researcher in Blockchain@UBC Cluster, under supervision of Dr. Chen Feng. He received his master’s degree in computer science from Technical University of Berlin in 2010 and his PhD from Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2019. His research is mainly focused on Distributed Systems, more specifically on designing, implementing and testing secure, efficient and scalable Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithms for blockchain networks. He is also interested in the intersection of machine learning and cyber security.

The performance of partially synchronous BFT-based consensus protocols is highly dependent on the primary node. All participant nodes in the network are blocked until they receive a proposal from the primary node to begin the consensus process. Therefore, an honest but slack node (with limited bandwidth) can adversely affect the performance when selected as primary. Hermes decreases protocol dependency on the primary node and minimizes transmission delay induced by the slack primary while keeping low message complexity and latency. Hermes achieves these performance improvements by relaxing strong BFT agreement (safety) guarantees only for a specific type of Byzantine faults (also called equivocated faults). Interestingly, we show that in Hermes equivocating by a Byzantine primary is unlikely, expensive and ineffective. Therefore, the safety of Hermes is comparable to the general BFT consensus. We deployed and tested Hermes on 190 Amazon EC2 instances. Our results show that in the presence of slack nodes Hermes outperformed the state-of-the-art BFT protocol by more than 4× in terms of throughput as well as 15× in terms of latency.

Blockchain@UBC Monthly Research Talk- May 26th- Dr. Drummond Reed
Drummond has spent over two decades in Internet identity, security, privacy, and trust frameworks. He joined Evernym as Chief Trust Officer after Evernym acquired Respect Network, where he was CEO, co-founder, and co-author of the Respect Trust Framework, which was honored with the Privacy Award at the 2011 European Identity Conference. Drummond is a Trustee and Secretary of the Sovrin Foundation, where he serves as chair of the Sovrin Governance Framework Working Group. He is co-editor of the DID (Decentralized Identifiers) specification in the W3C DID (Decentralized Identifier) Working Group. He has served as co-chair of the OASIS XDI Technical Committee since 2004, the semantic data interchange protocol that implements Privacy by Design. Prior to starting Respect Network, Drummond was Executive Director of two industry foundations: the Information Card Foundation and the Open Identity Exchange. He has also served as a founding board member of the OpenID Foundation, ISTPA,, and Identity Commons. In 2002 he received the Digital Identity Pioneer Award from Digital ID World, and in 2013 he was cited as an OASIS Distinguished Contributor.

Regardless of the specific application, the common theme of all blockchain technology is establishing trust across multiple independent parties. That is also the mission of digital identity technology, and over the past three years digital identity and blockchain technology have come together into a new decentralized identity model known as self-sovereign identity (SSI). As SSI has matured, it has spawned a four-layer interoperability stack very much like the TCP/IP stack that enabled that enabled the Internet. This talk will trace the origins of the Trust over IP (ToIP) stack, describe the purpose of all four layers (blockchain is only the first layer), explain why it is a “dual stack” of both technology and governance, and finally it will examine the business, legal, and social impacts of enabling a trust layer for the Internet.

Blockchain@UBC Monthly Research Talk- September 22nd - Jonathan Dotan and Daniel C. Park
Daniel Park
Jonathan Dotan​ is a Fellow at Stanford’s Center for Blockchain Research and the Stanford Compression Forum. He researches and lectures on the applied strategy and policy for a decentralized Internet and co-founded the Starling Initiative. He has over 20 years of experience navigating the intersections of media, tech and policy. Jonathan recently wrapped six seasons writing and producing HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series, SILICON VALLEY. Previously, he worked in 30 countries on digital media adoption at the Motion Picture Association and began his career with a post at the United Nations Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Hercegovina. He received an MPhil in International Relations from Oxford University, St. Antony’s College. Daniel C. Park​ is a graduate student at the University of British Columbia researching blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology applications in health data management and forensic image authentication. He has experience conducting field research across Europe and Asia for the MasterCard Foundation and the G20 Research Group; providing regulatory consultancy for Virtual Asset Service Providers in the UK; and contributing to policy and blockchain projects at University College London, Hala Systems Inc., and NATO Association of Canada. He received his bachelor’s in International Relations at the University of Toronto, Trinity College, and currently serves as a naval reservist officer with the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Starling Framework for Data Integrity is a comprehensive set of tools and principles that empowers organizations to securely capture, store and verify human history.

Jointly developed by USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, Starling is innovating with the latest cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to meet the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in our most sensitive digital records, such as the documentation of human rights violations, war crimes and testimony of genocide.

Starling represents a ground-breaking methodology that brings together immutable ledger and distributed storage technology, and human verification in the fight against the spread of misinformation and deep fakes. The suite comprises three modules: Capture, Store, and Verify; to provide an end-to-end chain of custody for photos, video, audio, and text, that can reduce information uncertainty in digital media.

While there is a lot of interest in the area of evidence-based decentralized attribution, surprisingly there are few working examples. That changed this summer. Over the last 90 days, UBC masters student Daniel Park worked with our collaborators at Hala Systems to build and deploy prototypes designed within the Starling framework to help their analysts document attacks against civilian infrastructure.

In this talk we’ll cover the lessons Daniel learned working alongside Hala Systems as we developed users to stories to user interfaces. We’ll then reflect on the path ahead for authenticated imagery, it’s evolving technical and ethical dimensions, and the various applications Starling could be applied to across humanitarian relief and accountability efforts.

Blockchain@UBC- Monthly Research Talk - March 24, 2020- Dr. Chang Lu
Chang Lu
Dr. Chang Lu is a postdoc research fellow at Blockchain@UBC. Trained in organization theory, Dr. Lu is interested in institutional change, organizational change, field theory and cross-level mechanisms. Empirically, he is researching the adoption of Blockchain technology in healthcare at both institutional and organizational levels. He has published several articles on leading management journals, and taught senior undergraduate and MBA students Organizational Strategy and Organizational Behavior. He serves as the supervisor of master and MBA students for their research projects, is currently creating education materials for executives about Blockchain in healthcare. He earned his Ph.D. in Strategic Management and Organization, School of Business from the University of Alberta. Prior to his academic career, he worked as an HR professional in China and Europe.

While the literature on organizational fields has paid much attention to the emergence of new fields, very little is understood about the emergence of field intersections. By field intersection, I refer it to as overlapping space between fields where actors frequently and fatefully interact with multiple fields. Research has demonstrated that field intersections are important sites where transformative change originates, due to the weaker pressure for institutional conformity and less accessible means of scrutiny (Furnari, 2014; Zietsma et al., 2017; Evan & Kays, 2008). In this study, I address the emergence of field intersections by case-studying the emergence of the intersection between the field of Blockchain innovation and healthcare. Through an inductive analysis of 43 interviews with key actors in the Blockchain innovation and healthcare field, as well as numerous documents and lengthy field observation notes, I found that field intersections may emerge through the following processes: (1) invoking cross-institutional unifiers; (2) coalescing around advantageously conditioned institutional entrepreneurs; (3) forging inter-field collaborations partaken by within-field competitors; (4) jockeying for authority in the intersection. These findings contribute to our understandings of field intersection, as well as the organizational literature on fields broadly.