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Three Jackson School Cybersecurity Fellows receive Mary Gates Research Scholarships

March 15, 2019


Three of the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity FellowsConor Cunningham, Binh Truong, and Jion Yi—have received Mary Gates Research Scholarships to support their technology policy research, supervised by Jackson School faculty member Jessica Beyer. The Fellows’ research spans major contemporary technology and cybersecurity issues and their receipt of these prestigious awards is confirmation of the quality and importance of their work.

Conor Cunningham is a senior majoring in International Studies with triple minors in Russian language, French language, and Russian, East European, and Central Asian studies. Fluent in Russian and French, Conor received a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to support his work building a comprehensive dataset of all Russian political interference around the world. During spring quarter, he will begin to produce reports of his findings. Ultimately, he will make his dataset public for others to use. In his time as a Cybersecurity Fellow, Conor has specialized his studies to focus on international cybersecurity issues, taking Jackson School courses on the topic and participating in a Global Research Group project (previously named Applied Research Projects)  for Microsoft’s Defending Democracy team on election security. Conor has been a recipient of a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship to fund intensive Russian study in Moscow through the Ellison Center for Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies. He was also one of three students to represent the UW in the EU delegation to the United States’ annual Schuman Challenge where he presented policy proposals to members of the EU delegation on arms control.

Binh Truong is a senior majoring in International Studies. An honors student, Binh received a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to support her honors’ research. Her project focuses on political memes and she works at the intersection of Internet culture, specifically memes or memetic culture, and political mobilization. Binh has been conducting observational research and collecting memes around major news events for textual analysis. Her field work will allow her to articulate the conditions under which people produce memes in response to major international events to understand why some events appear to trigger emotional responses and some do not. In her time as a Cybersecurity Fellow, Binh has also participated in an Global Research Group project (previously named Applied Research Projects) for Microsoft’s Defending Democracy team on election security. Next autumn, Binh will be a Fulbright Scholar in Austria teaching English and conducting research on youth and social media.

Jion Yi is pursuing double degrees in Informatics and International Studies. Also an honors student, Jion was awarded a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to study the rise of blockchain-based virtual citizenship entities. These entities allow their “citizens” to use blockchain-based platforms to enter contracts–such as birth certificates, marriages, land titles, and wills–with other citizens on the platform. Jion is using three separate methods for understanding why people decide to join virtual nations—participant-observation of a major virtual nation, a survey, and interviews. In her time as a Cybersecurity Fellow, Jion has specialized on the intersection of blockchain, cybersecurity, and human rights, taken Jackson School cybersecurity policy courses, and entered and advanced to the finals in an NYU cybersecurity policy case competition.

Cybersecurity Fellows have opportunities to develop deep expertise in a technology policy related topic area. They also develop professional skills such as research, writing, and public speaking. Cybersecurity Fellows are a part of the Jackson School’s Cybersecurity Initiative, which is run by Jessica Beyer and Sara Curran.

More information about the Cybersecurity Fellows is here.

This event and publication were made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.