Faculty Spotlight – Deepa Kundur


Dr. Deepa Kundur uncovers a new class of security vulnerabilities in Smart Grid systems.

Smart Grid represents a marriage of information technology and power systems. Applying advanced sensing, communications and control technologies to today’s power generation, transmission and distribution systems aims to increase efficiency, reliability, responsiveness, and the potential to take advantage of renewable energy sources. Smart Grid is a significant research thrust because the potential technical, economic and environmental gains of this cyber-physical integration are tremendous. Imagine a world of smart devices automatically operating at the most economical and energy-rich time of day.

Dr. Kundur’s work is showing that the increased sophistication of power systems, presents significant dangers as well as established benefits. Specifically, when any physical system is cyber-enabled, vulnerabilities, in part, shift from the conventional physical realm into the cyber subsystem. Currently, the lack of widespread use of information technology in traditional power systems (unoptimized, unconnected) insulates them from cyber attacks. In more integrated and cyber-connected power systems, Dr. Kundur has uncovered a new class of attacks, enabled through increased cyber-physical connectivity (remote access to information-driven actuating devices). Her group’s recent work using variable structure system theory demonstrates how a power system under attack can adopt a sliding mode of operation whereby large-scale instability can result within seconds of applying the attack to one or more circuit breakers. She has also developed mechanisms through which distributed controllers can serve as local safeguards – responding to issues and rebalancing power systems. This work ensures the transition from traditional power systems to smart systems leverages all the benefits while minimizingassociated risks, and is essential for the integration of renewable power inputs.

Deepa Kundur was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She received the B.A.Sc., M.A.Sc., and Ph.D. degrees all in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1993, 1995, and 1999, respectively, from the University of Toronto, Canada. From September 1999 to December 2002 she was an Assistant Professor in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and returned in September 2012 to hold the title of Professor. From January 2003 to August 2012 she was a faculty member in Electrical & Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University.

More about Dr. Kundur and her research: http://www.comm.utoronto.ca/~dkundur/