Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Middlebury Institute Launches Cyber Collaborative

By Eva Gudbergsdottir
Middlebury Institute

March 16, 2021 — Monterey, CA

(Photo above: The Cyber Collaborative team, Elle Zesky MANPTS ‘22, Dr. Philipp Bleek, and Visiting Fellow Robert Siudak outside the Lara Soto Adobe on the Middlebury Institute campus. Source: Middlebury website)

The new Cyber Collaborative at the Middlebury Institute will serve as a hub for cyber, and especially cybersecurity, activity across disciplines and degree programs and is led by Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies Professor Philipp Bleek.

“A 21st century policy school has to offer students opportunities related to cybersecurity,” Bleek says. “The topic is important in its own right and also as it intersects with topics like terrorism, nonproliferation, and financial crime, and others.”

Dr. Bleek is an international security generalist with a focus on the causes, consequences, and amelioration of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons threats. He is interested in the cyber and digital domains as they relate to these threats, and more broadly, and has coached Middlebury Institute student teams at the Atlantic Council’s annual Cyber 9/12 competition in Washington, DC multiple times.

The Cyber Collective is supported by graduate assistant Elle Zesky. She is a second semester NPTS student and a 2020 Graduate from Mercyhurst University where she studied intelligence with a focus in cyber security, as well as Russian studies. Elle has worked in various fields involving cyber-crime and cyber enabled crimes such as financial crime and human trafficking. She is also co-coaching the 2021 Cyber 9/12 team. Zesky is passionate about accessible cyber education, data protections and protecting vulnerable populations online.

During the spring 2021 semester, the Cyber Collaborative is hosting its first visiting fellow, Polish scholar Robert Siudak. Supported by a Fulbright Fellowship, he is teaching an inter-disciplinary course on cybersecurity, coaching this year’s student team for the Cyber 9/12 competition, as well as engaging with students, staff, and faculty, and conducting research.

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