Welcome to my webpage! I am an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg. I was born in Tianjin, China (many years ago). I received my Computer Science Ph.D. degree from Brown University. I also studied at Princeton University and IU, Bloomington. You can find a bit more about my previous work on this page.

A Short Interview of Daphne by VT CS

What do you enjoy about Computer Science?

Daphne: Algorithmic thinking, where one can solve a complex problem step-by-step, is what I enjoy most about computer science. Algorithms are both elegant and empowering. Interesting, I found that being able to think and reason algorithmically is a useful life skill as well. It has helped me sort out many messy situations.

What are your personal interests?

Daphne: I enjoy singing, karaoke style. Singing is very therapeutic, an effective stress reducer. I also started reading several years ago. I found a used copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at a local Goodwill store and got hooked on reading since then. Right now I am reading the fourth book in this series, which has a fascinating plot built around AI and hacking.

What are your interest areas in Computer Science?

Daphne: System security is my current focus. I design methods and develop tools to ensure the runtime integrity of machines and programs. Security research is fun and dramatic, because of the (indirect) interactions and dynamics between attackers and defenders.

How did you get involved in Computer Science?

Daphne: Natural sciences have always been my favorite subjects. I was a Chemistry Ph.D. student in Princeton University in 1999, doing organic synthesis and immunoassay. Because of the Dot-Com boom, everyone around me was taking classes from the Computer Science Department. I took an amazing Discrete Math course from Professor Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, and the rest is history.

A more professional description of Daphne:

Daphne Yao is an Elizabeth and James E. Turner Jr. '56 Faculty Fellow and L-3 Faculty Fellow. Daphne received the NSF CAREER Award in 2010 for her work on human-behavior driven malware detection, and most recently ARO Young Investigator Award for her semantic reasoning for mission-oriented security work in 2014. She received the Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award from Virginia Tech College of Engineering in 2012. Dr. Yao has several Best Paper Awards (e.g., ICICS '06, CollaborateCom '09, and ICNP '12) and Best Poster Awards (e.g., ACM CODASPY '15).

She was given the Award for Technological Innovation from Brown University in 2006. She held a U.S. patent for her anomaly detection technologies.

Dr. Yao is an associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing (TDSC). She serves as PC members in numerous computer security conferences, including ACM CCS. She has over 75 peer-reviewed publications in major security and privacy conferences and journals.

Dr. Yao is a senior member of ACM and a senior member of IEEE.


Ph.D. Brown University, Computer Science
M.S. Indiana University, Bloomington, Computer Science
M.A. Princeton University, Chemistry
B.S. Peking University, Chemistry

Professional Experience

[Jun. 2014 - Present] Associate Professor, Virginia Tech Computer Science
[Dec. 2009 - Jun. 2014] Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Computer Science
[Jan. 2008 - Dec. 2009] Assistant Professor, Rutgers University Computer Science, New Brunswick/Piscataway NJ
[Sep. 2006 - Dec. 2007] Visiting scholar, CERIAS, Purdue University
[May 2006 - Aug. 2006] Research intern, HP Systems Security Lab, Princeton.
[Apr. 2005 - May 2007] Consultant, IAM Technology Inc., Providence RI

Honors and Awards

  • L-3 Communications Cyber Faculty Fellow, 2014
  • Young Investigator Award, Army Research Office, 2014
  • Best Paper Award, International Conference on Network Protocols (ICNP), 2012
  • Outstanding New Assistant Professor Award, Virginia Tech College of Engineering, 2012
  • Best Paper Award, 6th CollaborateCom Conference, 2010
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2010
  • Best Poster Award, CODASPY 2015, WOCC 2008
  • Best Student Paper Award, ICICS 2006
  • Award for Technological Innovation from Brown University, 2006
  • University Fellowship, Brown University, 2002
  • Graduate with the Highest Honors, Peking University, 1998
  • IEC Fellowship, Peking University, 1996
  • Outstanding Student Fellowship, Peking University, 1995
  • SONY Fellowship, Peking University, 1995


  • Stuart Haber, William Horne, Tomas Sander, and Danfeng Yao.
    Integrity Verification of Pseudonymized Documents.
    U.S. Patent No. 8,266,439. Sep. 2012.

  • Xiaokui Shu, Fang Liu, and Danfeng Yao.
    Rapid Screening of Transformed Data Leaks with Efficient Algorithms and Parallel Computing.
    Provisional patent Filed. Feb. 2015.

  • Danfeng Yao and Hao Zhang.
    Detection of Stealthy Malware Activities with Transitional Causality and Scalable Triggering Relation Discovery.
    Continuation-in-Part (CIP) Patent Filed. Virginia Tech. 14/267,422. May, 2014.

  • Danfeng Yao, Deian Stefan, and Chehai Wu.
    Systems and Methods for Malware Detection. U.S. Patent No. 8,763,127. Jun. 24, 2014.