PhD student Shawn Shan and alumni Emily Wenger and Jenna Cryan were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2024. Forbes editors reached out to the team for their work on Glaze: a tool for artists to protect their creative property against AI models. This is the first time the Department of Computer Science has had students make the list.

Nominations for the 30 Under 30 list begin in the Spring and span across the globe. The process includes both application-based nominations and reporters who scout for talent. This year, over 11,000 people applied for North America alone. The list is divided into 20 categories, like art, fashion, and science. Shan, Wenger, and Cryan were named to the Consumer Technology division, which is aimed at products that better the public’s everyday life. Glaze currently has roughly 1.6 million downloads worldwide.

About Glaze

Glaze is a software that “cloaks” images so that models incorrectly learn the unique features that define an artist’s style, thwarting subsequent efforts to generate artificial plagiarism. It gives artists a countermeasure against generative art platforms such as DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, which have exploded in popularity. The research was developed in the SAND Lab by Shan, Wenger, and Cryan, assistant professor Rana Hanocka, and was led by Neubauer Professors of Computer Science Ben Zhao and Heather Zheng.

Glaze received the Chicago Innovation Award for 2023, a “special mention” award for the TIME Best Inventions for 2023, the USENIX 2023 Internet Defense Prize, and the USENIX 2023 Distinguished Paper Award. The tool has been featured in hundreds of news outlets since its release.

Shawn Shan

Shawn is a fourth-year PhD student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UChicago as well. Shawn is a recipient of the Liew Family Research Fellowship and the Eckhardt Graduate Scholarship. He has 13 publications that have been presented at top conferences including USENIX Security, CCS, IEEE Oakland, and CHI.

Shawn was the student lead on the Glaze Project, leading the algorithm design, evaluation, and software implementation. He hopes this inspires others to work on similar research that protects creators from generative AI.

“Being named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list brings me a lot of pride in my accomplishments,” said Shan. “I’m glad to be recognized for my hard work in the past year, but at the same time, I don’t take this success lightly; I feel a sense of responsibility given the impact my work is having.”

Emily Wenger

Emily graduated from the Department of Computer Science in the Spring of 2023. She received the Harper Fellowship, Harvey Fellowship, and Siebel Scholarship during her time at UChicago. Before graduating, Emily worked for Meta as a Research Scientist studying machine learning-based attacks on post-quantum cryptosystems. She will be starting as an assistant professor for Duke University in the Fall of 2024.

Emily served as general support on a number of issues for the Glaze Project. She feels honored to receive the award and be a part of an amazing cohort of innovators and thinkers.

“I think Glaze struck a chord with a lot of people, said Wenger. “We are in the middle of this cultural moment where generative AI is becoming more prevalent, even though its implications are not fully understood. Glaze is helping combat some of the worst angles of generative AI technology, and people are hungry for solutions that address these downsides.”

Jenna Cryan

Jenna graduated in the Spring of 2023 with her PhD in computer science after attending the University of California, Santa Barbara for her bachelor’s and master’s degree. Her research has largely focused on human computer interaction– especially how users interact with and are affected by modern machine learning systems and applications. She received multiple awards for her PhD research, including the CHI 2020 best paper honorable mention, the USENIX Distinguished Paper Award, and the USENIX Internet Defense Prize.

Jenna’s primary role on the Glaze project was leading the user study efforts.

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