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Announcing the 2022-2023 fellows of the inaugural Catalyst Fellowship Program at Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst

Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst (Toronto Metropolitan University’s national centre for training, innovation and collaboration in cybersecurity) is delighted to announce the inaugural cohort of Catalyst Fellows for the 2022-23 academic year. Three TMU faculty members  — Burcu Bulgurcu, Rasha Kashef, and Reza Samavi — as well as three industry professionals — A.J. Khan, Monika Freunek, and Jeff Schwartzentruber — will work on various research projects linked to the Catalyst’s mission: to empower individuals and organizations to seize the opportunities and tackle the challenges of cybersecurity.

Research undertaken by the fellows will include proposing new cybersecurity protocols, determining the theoretical limits of achievable security, and creating new software applications and additional tools to help Canada advance to the forefront of cybersecurity innovation. The fellows will pursue their respective projects while collaborating with members of TMU and the Catalyst community; interacting with learners in the Catalyst’s Accelerated Cybersecurity Training Program; engaging with company founders and entrepreneurs in the Catalyst Cyber Accelerator, working on projects involving the Catalyst Cyber Range, and collaborating with other Catalyst staff engaged in a variety of cybersecurity-related programming. The fellows will convene both remotely and in-person, with in-person meetings held at Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst’s headquarters in Brampton.

Launched earlier this year, the Catalyst Fellowship Program is a major initiative dedicated to advancing the Catalyst’s work to drive Canada’s global competitiveness in cybersecurity through original research and industry engagement. Selected from academics at Toronto Metropolitan University and professionals working in a wide variety of organizations and sectors, the program aims to bring together researchers with a diverse range of backgrounds and areas of expertise to learn from each other and collaborate in unexpected ways.

We are pleased to welcome the following fellows to the 2022-2023 Catalyst Fellowship Program:

Burcu Bulgurcu is an Associate Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, Department of Information Technology Management. Her research and teaching interests are cybersecurity, information privacy, social media and business analytics, and data visualization. As a Catalyst Fellow, Burcu will carry out a groundbreaking investigation on cybersecurity management for remote workforce, offering insight on emerging and escalating cybersecurity challenges when employees are outside corporate firewalls.

Rasha Kashef is an Assistant Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering. Her scholarship on machine learning focuses on unlocking the hidden meaning in big data, with applications in marketing, e-commerce, security, software systems and health care. As a Catalyst Fellow, Rasha will develop effective models for improving the robustness of robust recommendation systems using advances in adversarial machine learning.

Reza Samavi is an Assistant Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, Department of Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering where he runs the Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence research Lab (TAILab). As a Catalyst Fellow, Reza will investigate the characteristics of machine learning systems when incorporating privacy and security requirements by design into the model, and assessing the trustworthiness of such learning systems.

A.J. Khan is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Vehiqilla Inc. Vehiqilla aims to meet today’s changing threat landscape in in-vehicle security and supply chain security. A.J. is a recognized leader in the automotive security field who has collaborated with the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association of Canada, the European Union Information Security Agency and Transport Canada. As a Catalyst Fellow, A.J. will develop a Virtual Security Operations Center for cyber threat monitoring of connected and autonomous vehicles.

Jeff Schwartzentruber is a Sr. Machine Learning Scientist at eSentire – a Canadian cyber-security company specializing in Managed Detection and Response. His research interests and private sector work include the development and application of machine learning models for threat detection and security analytics. As a Catalyst Fellow, Jeff will develop an AI-based method to reduce the complexity and manual effort of building a robust security operations pipeline for extracting a variety of data sources, transforming this data, and obtaining relevant security analytics.

Monika Freunek is an experienced researcher and lecturer, project manager and executive leader in the fields of critical infrastructure and cybersecurity. Monika has more than 15 years of experience in IoT systems, microsystem technologies, cybersecurity, data science and machine learning. As a Catalyst Fellow, Monika will investigate available approaches to IoT-security in research and industry and determine theoretical limits of achievable security in distributed systems.