Fulbright Scholarship success for computing science researcher

Published: 6 June 2017

Computer science researcher Dr karen Renaud is back in Glasgow after a productive six months of cybersecurity research in the United States.

A computer science researcher is back in Glasgow after a productive six months of cybersecurity research in the United States.

Dr Karen Renaud, senior lecturer in the School of Computing Science, recently returned to the University after a Fulbright Scholarship visit to Mississippi State University (MSU).

The Fulbright Commission, named for US senator J William Fulbright, was established in 1948 to foster cultural and educational exchange between the UK and the US.

During the last six decades, approximately 15,000 UK nationals have studied in the US and 12,000 US nationals in the UK as part of the Fulbright Programme.

Prominent alumni of the Fulbright programme include poet Sylvia Plath; Charles Kennedy MP, former rector and an alumnus of the University of Glasgow; journalist, author and Fulbright Commissioner Toby Young; and the economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman.

Dr Renaud, whose research focuses on human behaviour and computer security, was one of the first UK academics to benefit from the Fulbright Cyber Security Awards, set up by the Cabinet Office as part of a package of increased US-UK cyber security cooperation.

Dr Renaud’s research time at Mississippi State was spent with Dr Merrill Warkentin, MSU’s James J. Rouse Professor of Information Systems.

Dr Renaud said: “My work is focused on how people interact with secure computer systems and the choices they make about digital security. People are often very possessive of their lifetime habits, even if they know their practices are unhelpful. For example, few of us follow advice with respect to taking regular exercise and eating healthily, despite knowing better, simply because we do what we’ve always done.  This kind of habitual behaviour also impacts security choices.

“As we work towards bringing the Internet of Things to life, internet access is being built into all kinds of devices all around us, increasing the risk posed by insecure systems design and weak passwords choice.

“Merrill works along similar lines in his research, so it made a lot of sense for us to work together. He was very welcoming and supportive and together we undertook a number of surveys about people’s habits which has given us a lot of really useful data.”

Dr Renaud has already published two papers based on the work she undertook in the States, and expects third to be submitted in the next month or so.

She added: “I had a fantastic time in the US, both in Mississippi during my six months there and the subsequent month I spent travelling across the USA. I met a lot of great people who I simply wouldn’t have had the chance to build a relationship with if I’d stayed in Glasgow, and we’re now in contact via Skype working on follow-up projects.

“The support I received from Glasgow colleagues in putting my application together was tremendous. I’d like particularly to thank Lynne McCorriston, research and business development manager in the College of Science and Engineering, who initially suggested applying for the scholarship and provided support throughout the process.”

For more information on Dr Renaud’s Fulbright experience, visit her blog 

First published: 6 June 2017