Change in COVA CCI Director Position

Dr. Daniel Takabi
Dr. Brian Payne
Dr. Takabi, Sandy Radesky, Dr. Payne, and Dr. Diaz

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Coastal Virginia Node, based at Old Dominion University, is pleased to announce new appointments in its leadership.

CCI Coastal Virginia Node Director, Brian Payne, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies, has been appointed as ODU’s Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.    

Daniel Takabi, who holds the Batten Endowed Chair in Cybersecurity and is the Director of the School of Cybersecurity at ODU, is the new CCI Coastal Virginia Node Director.

More about Payne’s appointment.

Payne’s  appointment comes due to Dr. Austin Agho’s departure as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs effective as of July 1, 2024.

Due to this change, Payne is stepping down from his position as Director of the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation (COVA CCI), the southeastern node of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative. Dr. Takabi will assume the role of the COVA CCI Director effective July 1, 2024.

Of his tenure as the COVA CCI Director, Payne said, “It’s been an honor to work with so many different people involved with COVA CCI and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative over the past five years. The progress that has been made is truly the result of a commitment to collaboration, excellence, and innovation.”

Payne has been an insightful leader since the inception of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and COVA CCI. He played a vital role in developing various collaborative programs and research initiatives across the region and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Under his leadership, COVA CCI received more than $11 million in funding from external grants and from CCI-funded research projects.

It also supported more than 400 students, both graduate and undergraduate, from colleges and universities across Virginia in various funded programs, such as    Innovate Cyber, Undergraduate Cybersecurity Research, Graduate Student Experiential Learning, and the establishment of the Coastal Virginia Cybersecurity Student Association.

COVA CCI also funded multiple research scientists’ work on cybersecurity-related research in collaboration with other universities and business partners.

Luiz DaSilva, Executive Director of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, said, “Brian was one of the leaders behind CCI from its inception. It has been a pleasure working with him for the past four years, and his accomplishments are evident in the tremendous progress that COVA CCI has experienced in that time. I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new role.”

More about Daniel Takabi.

Dr. Takabi’s extensive experience and research are valuable assets to both Old Dominion and COVA CCI.

 “With Dr. Takabi leading COVA CCI, I am confident that the next five years will be even better than our first five,” Payne said.

“I am greatly honored and humbled by the trust ODU and Dr. Payne have placed in me to lead COVA CCI,” said Takabi. “Since its inception, COVA CCI has been instrumental in promoting cybersecurity research, innovation, and workforce development in Coastal Virginia and the (commonwealth). I look forward to collaborating with the COVA CCI community and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative to build on the significant progress made under Dr. Payne’s leadership.”

Takabi received his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on cybersecurity and privacy, including the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI) and data science with cybersecurity and privacy (e.g., private AI, adversarial machine learning), privacy enhancing technologies, computation over encrypted data, and usable security and privacy.

He has published more than 100 technical articles in highly competitive journals and conference proceedings, some of which won best paper awards. He served as PI for more than 25 projects with over $18 million      in funding from NSF, NSA, DOD, and industry.

In recognition of his research contributions, he has received a Microsoft Investigator Fellowship. At his previous institutions, he received an Early Career Award for Research and Creativity at the university level, an Outstanding Researcher Award      at the University of North Texas College of Engineering, and the Senior Faculty Award at Georgia State University’s College of Arts & Sciences.

He has served on the program committees/ organizing committees of several prestigious conferences such as IEEE S&P, ACM CCS, PETs, ACM CODASPY, ACSAC, and ACM SACMAT, including being the chair of the IEEE S&P 2023 and program committee chair of the SACMAT 2023.  

To learn more about COVA CCI and CCI, visit the COVA CCI website.



COVA CCI is supported by the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative and funded through the Commonwealth of Virginia.