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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Ph.D. Student Presents Cybersecurity Research in Kazakhstan

By Keith Pierce

Gayane Grigoryan, a Ph.D. engineering management student at Old Dominion University, presented her cybersecurity research at the inaugural Edmund S. Muskie Conference in Kazakhstan's newly renamed capital Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) this past spring.

"Having the chance to meet so many bright and talented people, who all work in different areas, was a wonderful opportunity," she said. "It's always motivating to have the opportunity to share about your field."

Grigoryan is a Fulbright Scholar (alumna) from Armenia. As a former Edmund S. Muskie Intern, she received an all-expense-paid trip to the conference.

The Muskie Internships are a summer program for current Fulbright students funded by the U.S. State Department. The aim is to provide emerging leaders from Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia the opportunity to gain real-world experience by complementing and enriching their graduate studies in the United States.

Supported by the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan, the focus of the two-day conference was to build networks for alumni of the Muskie program. Roughly half of the 77 participants shared research their area of study. Grigoryan discussed internet addiction and cooperative game theory, focusing on the human aspect of security and analyzing what types of coalitions form, the joint actions groups take and the resulting collective benefits or detriments.

"My presentation was about cybersecurity human behavior analysis and included a game-theory modeling approach," she said. "I'm very interested in how governments and organizations can provide more secure environments for employees, their organization or even their nation. We can use cooperative game theory to predict possible actions of employees, or people in general, in certain situations."

In addition to city tours, cultural activities and student presentations, participants heard from various speakers, including newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan William H. Moser.

"We really believe you are representative of the future of your countries in your various fields," Moser said in his opening remarks. "We believe that our exchange programs, and just the experience of going to the United States, are so powerful that you will have an experience that will ground an influence on your life and we hope that you'll become our lasting friends."

"(Muskie) Alumni are a great source of ideas. They are so eager to change and do something, initiate something; thus, it also drives us towards thinking what else we could do," said Anastasia Futrell, a senior program officer for the Cultural Vistas Exchange Visitor and Grant Programs, a nonprofit organization that helps implement exchange programs.

Named after the late senator from Maine and pre-eminent U.S. environmental leader, the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program was established by Congress in 1992 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union to help ensure that countries in the region continued healthy economic and democratic growth. The program is designed to strengthen connections between the United States and 12 other countries -Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

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