Vivek Nair, MS

2022 Hertz Fellow
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Vivek Nair develops cutting-edge cryptographic techniques to defend digital infrastructure against sophisticated cyberthreats. Nair believes that for every problem that exists in cybersecurity, there is a cryptographic solution waiting to be found.

As our world becomes increasingly connected, everything from our bank accounts to our power grids is susceptible to hackers, ransomware and cyberwarfare. Currently a first-year graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and a researcher at Cornell’s Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts, Nair studies new ways of using modern cryptography to engineer countermeasures against common digital threats. As a recipient of the National Science Foundation CyberCorps® Scholarship and NPSC Fellowship, he works closely with the US Department of Defense to build resilient cyber systems and address urgent national security threats.

Nair first began researching cybersecurity in 2015, when he founded, a successful startup aimed at combating attacks on two-factor authentication, and he has authored numerous patents and patent applications for secure user authentication technologies. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, to a nomadic family, he spent parts of his childhood in eight different cities, from San Jose to Singapore, while attending school online through Stanford University’s OHS program. He went on to become the youngest-ever recipient of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign(at the ages of 18 and 19, respectively).

Nair takes a leadership role in the cybersecurity community by giving invited talks at conferences, leading global hackathon teams and delivering courses to over 1,000 students. He was also the recipient of the 2022 Tong Leong Lim Pre-Doctoral Prize at UC Berkeley, which is presented annually to the electrical engineering and computer science student who achieves the highest distinction in the pre-doctoral examination.

Outside of cybersecurity, he is a competitive virtual reality eSports player and the captain of Berkeley’s “SSS” Beat Saber team, which he led to a U.S. national collegiate championship victory in 2021.

"For any given problem in cybersecurity, there’s a technology-based solution out there waiting to be found."
– Vivek Nair

Graduate Studies

University of California, Berkeley
Computer Science

Undergraduate Studies

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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