FISSEA Educator of the Year
Nomination Letter for Dr. Gail-Joon Ahn

I would like to nominate Dr. Gail-Joon Ahn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte for FISSEA's Educator of the Year for 2004. Dr. Gail-Joon Ahn is an Assistant Professor at UNC-Charlotte.


Dr. Ahn is an outstanding educator who has made significant contributions towards Information Assurance (IA) education and increasing the diversity of the Federal Government's IA workforce. In 2000 Dr. Ahn created the graduate Information Assurance program at UNC Charlotte. The program was later recognized by NSA as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. In 2001 Dr. Ahn was a driving force behind the creation of the Carolinas Cyber Defender Program, a part of the Federal CyberCorps program, offered through 20 highly selective academic institutions across the US. The program was aimed at creating high quality IA professionals for the federal government and has received close to $5million in scholarship and capacity building grants since 2001.

The Carolinas Cyber Defender program is distinguished not only by its high quality but also by its strong commitment to increase the diversity of the federal IA workforce. Dr. Ahn strongly believes that diversity is not only needed to close the "digital divide" but also is essential for the federal government to serve our diverse citizenry. From the very beginning Dr. Ahn worked closely with colleagues from the HBCU community to ensure the full participation of underrepresented groups in the federal Cybercorps program.

Since Spring 2002, Dr. Ahn's lectures have been televised over the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN, so that NC A&T University students can also take IA courses remotely. The NCREN is a multi-site, multi-channel, interactive video network connecting more than 19 universities and organizations in North Carolina. NC A&T is largest historically black university in North Carolina with 10,000 students. NC A&T has a national reputation for focusing on science and technology research and education. Dr. Ahn's teaching evaluations both by students and by faculty peer were outstanding even though the courses were also over the NCREN network, which is a much more challenging instruction environment compared to regular classroom teaching.

The Carolina Cyber Defender program is by far the most diverse program in the federal Cybercorps program. To date, the Carolinas Cyber Defender program has enrolled 68 students, the second largest program among 20 universities. Forty night percent of the students enrolled are African American, and 32% are women. The Cybercorps first African American and Hispanic American graduates were all students of Dr. Ahn. Dr. Ahn's students are working in many federal agencies including NSA, NRL, VA, GAO, DIA, US Navy, and ORNL.

Dr. Ahn has led efforts to develop the Graduate Certificate program in Information Security & Privacy at UNC Charlotte. He has collaborated with his colleagues to develop undergraduate curriculum for BA in Software and Information Systems in 2001. This program is designed for students interested in pursuing a career in Information Technology with a focus on developing large-scale information systems. This degree will also well prepare students to pursue graduate studies in Information Technology and related application areas. In addition, Dr. Ahn prepared applications for Information Assurance Courseware Evaluation and received CNSS certificate (Standard No. 4011, 4013, and 4014-E) from National Security Agency in 2002 and 2003. It allowed our IA curriculum and program to fulfill the requirements of national standards.

Dr. Ahn has the rare combination of talents of being an exceptional research scholar and an outstanding teacher. He has made many important contributions in the field of information access control. Over the past five years, he has authored thirteen refereed journal papers and over thirty refereed conference papers. Many of his publications appeared in top-tire publications such as the ACM Transaction on Information and System Security. He has received the prestigious Department of Energy early career award for exceptional young scientists. His work has not only earned the respect of his scholastic peers but he has also been able to significantly contribute to the latest developments of federated identity management for the financial service companies.

Dr. Ahn has tirelessly worked to update the university's IA program to keep up with latest developments of the industry. Recently has led the development of courses in Computer Forensics and Vulnerability Assessment (Penetration Testing) and the establishment of hands-on teaching laboratories. He has involved his students in research. One of his student's publications received the best student paper award at an important refereed conference. For his excellence in teaching and curriculum development, Dr. Ahn received the graduate teaching excellence award by the College of Information in Technology at UNC Charlotte in 2004.

In summary, Dr. Ahn has taken strong leadership roles in Information Assurance education, research particularly with external funding, scholarly activities, supervision and support of student research, professional activities, and service. Dr. Ahn has clearly demonstrated (1) distinguished achievement in teaching or research particularly with substantial, sustained external funding, (2) good reputation in the Information Assurance field, and (3) collegiality and ability to cooperatively interact with colleagues, members of the university community, and appropriate persons outside the University.

Congratulations Dr. Gail-Joon Ahn!

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Last updated: March 25, 2014
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