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The University of Texas at San Antonio Online Magazine


Fulfilling a Childhood Passion

Inaugural Kudla fellowship supports student's dream to work with computers

Michele Maasberg had two passions growing up: computers and flying. She satisfied her love of aviation by serving as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy. And she is realizing her other dream by studying cybersecurity through the Nancy and Frank Kudla Endowed Fellowship in Information Assurance and Security.

The Kudla program is a prestigious and competitive graduate fellowship program established through the generosity of UTSA alumni Frank Kudla and Nancy Kudla. Their $500,000 gift supports graduate student research and education in cybersecurity.

Maasberg, the inaugural recipient of this fellowship, is a doctoral student in information technology. During her military career she graduated from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and flew antisubmarine warfare and combat search-and-rescue missions overseas before retiring as a lieutenant commander in 2006.

As a civilian, Maasberg explored her love of technology working on global health record systems with both the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army in Virginia. Even after earning numerous certifications, Maasberg wanted to formalize her education in a top-ranked cybersecurity program.

“I researched the best programs and selected UTSA,” says Maasberg, who earned her M.B.A. in information assurance from UTSA in 2013. “UTSA has a good reputation in cybersecurity.”

Gaining technical experience in her graduate classes, Maasberg says she enjoyed the hands-on work. “I learned the formal process for how incident responses should be handled when investigating a virtual machine compromised with a variety of malware,” she says. “I realized I wanted to continue my education and pursue a Ph.D.”

As a doctoral student, Maasberg is conducting research with faculty members Nicole Beebe and Darrell Carpenter on insider threat. She has had a paper published in the Journal of Information Privacy and Security and attended the Hawaii International Conference on Sciences in January, where she presented her paper “The Dark Side of the Insider.”

“I’m looking at the correlation between addiction theory and insider threat,” Maasberg says. “Studying the risks of insider threat using this behavioral model is unusual.” An insider threat is danger posed by trusted members of an organization.

“Obtaining a Ph.D. is a full-time job,” Maasberg says, “but throughout my studies I’ve been motivated by my fellowship. I’ve worked hard this past year on my research so that my donors can see the progress that I’m making in the world of cybersecurity. Their support of my education makes me want to achieve more.”

–Wendy Frost



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