After (almost) 9 years at Bell Labs (first as a researcher, then as a department head) I have recently made the decision to move back to academia, while remaining affiliated with the Labs in a limited advisory research role.

As of this week I am part of the faculty at the Computer Science Department in KU Leuven as an Associate Professor where I will be pursuing research and teaching on distributed systems, blockchain and software security in the DistriNet research group.

In this new role I will bootstrap a new line of research on secure distributed computing with a focus on building and securing decentralized applications, in particular applications that employ “smart contracts”, i.e. code that manages digital assets, usually recorded on blockchain-based ledgers. Specific topics of interest include the study of new and widely used languages for writing smart contracts and system-level challenges of blockchain platforms including their security, privacy, scalability and interoperability.

I’m looking for Master students interested in pursuing a PhD in any of these areas. I have an open position for a 4-year full-time PhD research assistant appointment in Leuven, Belgium. For any questions about the topic, don’t hesitate to reach out at tom.vancutsem at For practical questions regarding working conditions for PhD students at KU Leuven, check this helpful website from the university.

Update: my inaugural lecture slides on secure and dependable software services for the Internet of Value are available here.