The intersection of national security and social media can be a complex crossroads. 

But it’s exactly where Kaitlyn Yoha is prepared to stand and present during the 10th annual Hume Center and Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence Colloquium on Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. 

“It allows me to practice presenting my findings from research at a high level to a diverse audience,” said Yoha, a senior studying computational modeling and data analytics. 

Yoha will present her findings related to the privacy policy and consumer data collection of the social media platform TikTok during the event, which is from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 12 in the Commonwealth Ballroom of Squires Student Center. She is one of over 100 Virginia Tech students whose research will be on display in front of Virginia Tech faculty, government, and industry. 

“The Hume Center colloquium is the highlight of the academic year at the National Security Institute,” said Eric Paterson, executive director of the institute (NSI). “The colloquium gives our students the opportunity to share some of their accomplishments, and for industry and government partners to see the collective body of work undertaken at the institute. I am also very pleased that students from some of our partner universities have the opportunity to travel to Blacksburg so that they can participate in the networking opportunities.” 

Yoha’s research fits within the theme of this year’s colloquium, “Critical and Emerging Technologies.” Other student teams’ research projects have a variety of focuses, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cybersecurity, and software-defined radio communications.

“I am pleased that the theme is focused on Critical and Emerging Technologies. It really speaks to the NSI’s mission and how we are advancing the Security, AI, and Quantum Research frontiers of the university,” Paterson said.

Hosted by the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology and sponsored by the Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence grant, students across academic colleges and departments will also hear from leaders in the national security field, including keynote speaker Stacey Dixon. Dixon is the current principal deputy director of national intelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

“We are excited to have Dr. Stacey Dixon as our keynote for our 10th annual colloquium. It will be great for VT students to hear her unique perspectives on the challenges that the intelligence community faces today, especially as it relates to critical and emerging technologies,” said Ehren Hill, Hume Center managing director.

Typically, the research and experiential learning projects that students present at the colloquium are funded by the National Security Institute’s program sponsors or through one of the Hume Center’s workforce development programs. Such programs allow students to gain hands-on experience that will better equip them for careers in the national security space by applying the knowledge they gain in the classroom to real-world problems of importance to the center's partners in the department of defense and intelligence communities.

This year’s colloquium panel will also focus on the importance of collaboration between academia, industry and government in the field of national security. It will have a mix of representation from those sectors.

The panel will be moderated by Peter Beling, director of the Intelligent Systems Division within the Virginia Tech National Security Institute. Speakers on the panel include:

  • Chris J., associate deputy director of the CIA for science and technology
  • Tracee Gilbert, PhD, System Innovation, CEO 
  • Patrick Cantwell, director of technology transfer and engagement, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division               
  • Tim Barton, chief technology officer, Leidos, Dynetics Group
  • Greg Simer, Chief Technology & Strategy, Defense Systems Sector, Northop Grumman
  • Aaron Brantly, associate professor of political science and director of the Tech4Humanity lab at Virginia Tech

Registration is required to attend and is open until 9 a.m. April 12.

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