Here is what Mihir Bellare, a professor in the department and her dissertation co-advisory had to say when outlining Meiklejohn's merits:
1. Impact: The results in Sarah’s thesis have shaped government policy. The methods in the thesis have been used to track cyber-criminals. The thesis has received significant media attention (NY Times, Washington Post, radio, TV, ...).Read our story about Meiklejohn's work here.
2. Intellectual and technical depth: The thesis introduces an innovative new experimental technique to track Bitcoins that was used not only to obtain the thesis results but is now used as a key forensic tool by law enforcement.
3. Independence: Unlike many theses, which write up group projects, this one was entirely Sarah’s work. She alone conceived the idea and methods and pushed it through from algorithms to reality.
In my 20 years of experience at UCSD, I would say that a thesis with one of the above elements is rare. To have all three in the same thesis is unique and extra-ordinary.
More media coverage of her work:
MIT Technology Review