Graduate student receives grant to attend top-tier cybersecurity conference

Since she is studying cybersecurity at the University of Houston-Victoria, graduate student Olufunmilayo Oguntoyinbo was hoping to get a travel grant to attend the international Network and Distributed System Security Symposium.

Olufunmilayo Oguntoyinbo

The Nigeria native waited about two months before receiving the news she was chosen to be among researchers and practitioners of cybersecurity at the symposium next week in San Diego.

“I thought, ‘OK, this is awesome and is actually happening,’” Oguntoyinbo said. “It’s very exciting.”

According to the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium website, attendance is limited to “foster maximum exchange of information and ideas.” Last year, a dozen grants were awarded to U.S.-based students, and six grants were awarded to international students. Only students enrolled in a security-related program at a college or university are eligible to apply for the grant.

Oguntoyinbo plans to graduate this semester with a Master of Science in computer information systems. She is a teaching assistant for the “Technology and Problem Solving” course and is a member of the Texas Women in Computing and African Student Association student organizations.

Her thesis focuses on cybersecurity, so attending the conference will help her gain insight into her research. She also is interested in malware detection software, she said.

Those who will attend the conference are researchers and educators, security analysts and system administrators and operations and security managers.

Hardik Gohel

“This is a great opportunity for her,” said Hardik Gohel, UHV assistant professor of computer science and director of the graduate Computer Information Systems program. “This is a chance to network and meet other researchers, and learn more about the industry and the future of cybersecurity.”

Gohel has gone to the symposium several times and wanted to help a graduate student interested in cybersecurity attend. Students who apply for a conference grant must submit a transcript, resume, letter of recommendation and a statement detailing why they should be accepted for the grant. The experience is helpful for those who plan to be in careers such as department of defense, department of energy and homeland security. The graduate student research travel grant award also will motivate other students to work in cybersecurity and artificial research at UHV, he said.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analyst jobs are projected to grow 32 percent from 2018 to 2028 as demands for innovative solutions for cybersecurity increase.

“Cybersecurity is really interesting and is something I would like to get involved in,” Oguntoyinbo said. “It is always changing, and it will be interesting to see what kind of ideas researchers will bring to the symposium.”

Oguntoyinbo said she is looking forward to meeting other students at the conference as well as meeting information analyst professionals. She also hopes to learn more about different cybersecurity careers.

“This is both hands-on experience and a learning opportunity, so I hope more students apply to whatever conferences are available in their area of studies to gain experience,” she said.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco