Waruni Hewage

Waruni Hewage

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

How do we balance the accuracy of data and people’s right to privacy? That’s the interesting topic PhD student Waruni Hewage is investigating for her doctoral research.

“We’re in the era of data, and almost every organisation uses data to improve its performance. But when using personal data, the privacy of the individual people should be preserved as the data may contain sensitive information people don’t want to reveal. However, if we hide the true form of the data to preserve the privacy, this data perturbation process can negatively affect the accuracy of prediction results.

“My ultimate goal for my PhD research is to generate a framework to optimise the trade-off between privacy and accuracy to help users achieve good accuracy while maintaining the privacy of the data.”

Waruni’s primary PhD supervisor is Associate Professor Roopak Sinha from the AUT Software Engineering Research Laboratory, which is part of AUT’s School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences. Her secondary supervisors are Professor Edmund Lai and Dr Asif Naeem.

An easy decision
Doctoral study was the obvious next step in her career, says Waruni who came to AUT as an international student from Sri Lanka.

“I worked as a lecturer at the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka, and decided to enrol in a PhD for my career development and to be able to explore a field of my interest for my research. Once I complete my studies, my plan is to return to Sri Lanka to resume my duties as a lecturer with more confidence.”

Choosing where to study was an easy decision for her.

“New Zealand is a beautiful and peaceful country, and AUT is a university that has achieved an excellent reputation in a short period of time. When I read about the facilities AUT has for postgraduate study and the stories about other students I realised this is where I should start the next step of my life.”

The journey towards a PhD
She would highly recommend doctoral study in computer science to other students, Waruni says.

“At AUT, you have your own space to think and work freely while your supervisors are there to guide you. You don’t feel alone in the journey to completing your PhD.”

Waruni already had the chance to watch other PhD students at the very end of their doctoral journey; an experience she found inspiring.

“I loved attending the AUT graduation last year. Seeing the successful PhD students receive their degrees and being able to sit on the stage with the academics really inspired me.”

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