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Governor’s STEM Scholars Partners with NCRI to Train Students in Cyber-Social Threat Analysis

Launch of the Governor’s STEM Scholars Cyber Forensics Laboratory

The Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) and the Governor’s STEM Scholars (GSS), a program of the Research & Development Council of New Jersey, announced today the launch of the Governor’s STEM Scholars Cyber Forensics Laboratory, a first-of-its-kind initiative to train New Jersey high school students in the emerging field of cyber-social threat identification and forecasting.

Through the Governor’s STEM Scholar Cyber Forensics Laboratory (Lab), New Jersey STEM students are developing the workforce skills required for open-source intelligence analysis, an emerging field at many intelligence agencies. Using publicly available information, such as social media traffic, the Governor’s STEM Scholars (Scholars) participating in the Lab will learn to identify and analyze threats to our national and state public health and infrastructure, online extremism endangering vulnerable communities, and social media manipulation of capital markets.

“Our youth are on the frontlines of where social media creates risk, so helping them develop next generation skills to mitigate these risks and be on the frontlines of the solution is key to ensuring that civil societies can endure this new threat landscape,” stated Adam Sohn, Chief Executive Officer of the Network Contagion Research Institute.

This year, nine of the 128 Scholars were selected to participate in the Lab, where they will assess foreign government manipulation of social media to affect energy sector supply chains. Using big data analytics, these Scholars will produce high-impact intelligence reports and climate models/forecasts on the threats impacting the public and private sector and local communities in New Jersey.

Scholars participating the in the Lab are:

  • Nima Fallah, a freshman computer science major at Rutgers University from Kearny, NJ, who is serving as a Lab Team Lead;

  • Anthony “AJ” Boyle, a junior at New Providence High School;

  • Kevin Chen, a junior at the Academy for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering from Montville Township;

  • Ryan Elyakoubi, a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School;

  • Srivatsa Kundurthy, a senior at the Academy for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering from Morris Plains;

  • Audrey Kuo, a senior at the Academy for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering from Morris Plains;

  • Danielle Park, a senior at Paramus High School;

  • Riya Shenvi, a sophomore at Bridgewater Raritan Regional High School; and,

  • Kavya Venkatesan, a junior at Old Bridge High School.

“Misinformation spread through social media is one of the biggest threats to our communities, businesses, and democracy. It is essential that we have a future workforce that knows how to identify and track those who are maliciously manipulating people through social media,” said Alise Roderer, Director of the Governor’s STEM Scholars. “Through the Governor’s STEM Scholars Cyber Forensics Laboratory, we are able to provide New Jersey high school students with the tools to identify and analyze this misinformation in a first-of-its-kind pilot program, preparing them for an essential and important job of the future.”

The NCRI has pioneered the use of machine learning and big-data analytics, as well as modern investigative techniques to identify and forecast cyber-social threats. This pilot is based on a successful, three-credit college program at Rutgers University, that has now entered its ninth semester and has trained over 100 students, many of which work with the NCRI upon graduation, or move into positions at US Intelligence agencies and major companies. The Lab will provide a high impact and data-driven model that can be replicated by high schools across the country.

Governor’s STEM Scholars Cyber Forensics Laboratory is funded with the support of the PSEG Foundation.


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