Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Building: Nguyen Engineering Building
Mail Stop: 1G5
Krzysztof (Kris) Gaj received an MSc and PhD in Electrical Engineering from the Warsaw University of Technology. He is a professor in the ECE Department at Mason, where he currently co-directs the Cryptographic Engineering Research Group – CERG - one of the largest and most widely recognized applied cryptography groups in the United States. His major research projects have been devoted to the evaluation of cryptographic algorithms competing to become new American and international standards. Gaj and his team compare these ciphers from the point of view of their performance in hardware and embedded systems. His work was instrumental in selecting Rijndael as a new Advanced Encryption Standard - AES, and Keccak as a new cryptographic hash function standard – SHA-3. He also played a major role in performing and coordinating the benchmarking of over 25 authenticated ciphers competing in the CAESAR contest. He is currently involved in evaluating candidates for two new U.S. federal standards in the areas of Post-Quantum Cryptography (PQC) and Lightweight Cryptography (LWC). The former of these two standards is related to the rise of quantum computers, which may one day wipe out the majority of modern cryptography as we know it. As a result, researchers, such as Gaj, are working right now to find a suitable replacement.
In his college years, Gaj wrote a book on the German Enigma machine and the techniques and machines used to break Hitler's code before and during World War II. Although his research interests shifted afterward to modern cryptography, he still incorporates Enigma's story into his classes on encryption and codebreaking.
Gaj leads students to greater understanding and acuity in cryptographic engineering, advanced digital system design, software/hardware codesign, and electronic design automation in a variety of senior and graduate courses. Beyond the classroom, Gaj interacts with numerous international professionals and academic communities in his field of research.
2018 - 2022: Countermeasures Against Side-Channels Attacks Targeting Hardware and Embedded System Implementations of Post-Quantum Cryptographic Algorithms. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
2018 - 2021: Post-Quantum Cryptography in Hardware and Embedded Systems. Funded by U.S., Department of Commerce (NIST).
2017 - 2021: IoT Circuit Locking, Obfuscation & Authentication Kernel (CLOAK) - A Compilable Architecture for Secure IoT Device Production, Testing, Activation & Operation. Funded by the National Science Foundation.
Honors and Awards
- Outstanding Faculty Award for contributions to the development and success of the Computer Engineering programs, ECE Department
- The Diploma of Appreciation for Outstanding Contribution on the George Mason University ATHENA Project in Support of the SHA-3 Competition, The Computer Security Division, NIST
- Outstanding Teaching Award, Volgenau School of Information Technology and Engineering
- PhD, Electrical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology
- MS, Electrical Engineering, Warsaw University of Technology