The Integrated Security Education and Research Center (ISERC) and the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative in Southwest Virginia (CCI) have partnered to bring to Virginia Tech a monthly series of unique seminars focused on integrated security topics. The first of which is set to take place Monday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m., and will feature Viswanath Venkatesh, an Eminent Scholar and Verizon Chair of Business Information Technology at the Pamplin College of Business, and Jamie Sikora, an assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering.

“The seminar series highlights the relationships and the great resources we have across various entities at Virginia Tech,” said Joseph Simpson, assistant professor of management and director of the ISERC. “You have a compilation of people from across the university collaborating across campus shaping the frontier of the future of cyber security.”

The ISERC is a collaborative, multidisciplinary venture to promote experiential learning, research, and outreach in integrated security, one of the university’s Destination Areas.

“When we share ideas, we can create stronger ideas. That’s the core motivation behind this seminar series,” explained Gretchen Matthews, professor of mathematics in the College of Science and director of the CCI, Southwest Virginia node. “We’re capitalizing on two previously existing efforts: first, the research and experiential learning achievements of an integrated security group formed around the destination area, and the momentum of CCI, which marshals talent from 41 different institutions of higher education—14 of which are here in the southwest region.

The CCI is Virginia’s main access point for cybersecurity research, innovation, workforce development, and news. In this community, researchers find funding and collaboration, students discover diverse career possibilities, and innovations come to life.

According to Simpson, each seminar will focus on the discussion of real-world, salient issues impacting businesses and individuals around the world. Each session will feature a presentation from each speaker, followed by Q&A sessions.

Students in the Integrated Security Destination Area Gateway Course coordinate team efforts in response to mock natural disasters and a cyber attack. Photo by Ray Meese for Virginia Tech.
Students in the Integrated Security Destination Area Gateway Course coordinate team efforts in response to mock natural disasters and a cyber attack. Photo by Ray Meese for Virginia Tech.

Venkatesh is widely regarded by his peers as one of the most influential scientists both in terms of premier journal publications and citation impacts. A leading expert on threats to and the protection of an organization’s information systems, he has published extensively on topics of security, from cybercrime and data breaches to cyber deviants and risk management. Venkatesh also serves as a fellow with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

Sikora’s research focuses on quantum information science, technology, and engineering. According to Matthews, Sikora is interested in any quantum problem that can be solved using convex optimization. His research focuses on quantum information science, technology, and engineering, and he is a key player in the new Center for Quantum Information Science and Engineering. Sikora’s presentation will address limits of security in quantum cryptography.

“We plan to highlight a diverse group of people working in cyber security,” said Matthews. “Diversity in the type of work they are doing, diversity in their career stage, and diversity in their approach. Our first session is indicative of this, as it features an eminent scholar and a rising star.”

While the initial seminar will be held via Zoom, future sessions will be in a hybrid format and will be hosted in the Integrated Security Education and Research Center. A new seminar will be held on the second Monday of each month throughout the spring semester, with the hope that the format will continue into future semesters.

“Cybersecurity is being looked at from so many different angles by so many different people across campus and across the commonwealth,” said Matthews. “There are the technical pieces, and then there are the human pieces. People in Pamplin, political science, or sociology, for instance, are looking at the interplay between technology and human components, and how that influences where we should be focusing our cybersecurity research and experiential learning.”

Who should attend this seminar? Anyone with an interest or stake in cybersecurity, said Matthews.

“I hope we see faculty members of CCI institutions, faculty involved in ISERC, as well as graduate and undergraduate students working in cybersecurity,” said Matthews.

Simpson is confident that those from outside of academia will also find the seminars enlightening.

“Businesses who are interested in the latest and greatest in research being produced or those who wish to see the highlights of some of the faculty we have are advised to attend,” he added.

If you are interested in attending the seminar or would like more information, please contact Kelly Izlar, communications specialist, CCI Southwest Virginia at

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