Speaker Biographies

October 7, 2021, Webinar Speakers:

Janette C. Briones

Dr. Janette C Briones earned her Doctorate of Philology in Computer Engineering in 2014.  She is currently the Principal Investigator for the Cognitive Communication Project within NASA’s Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) program.  She is responsible for leading and coordinating cognitive communications technology development and demonstration of new, high payoff space technologies that will promote mission utilization of cognitive communications, thereby expanding the capabilities of NASA GRC.  This involves the use of machine learning in the next generation architecture for space communications in the effort to increase efficiency, autonomy, reliability, and increased performance of our space communication and navigations next generation architecture.  Also, she took the initiative in leading the action to host the Biennial IEEE Cognitive Communications for Aerospace Application Workshop (CCAAW).  This event showcased the current work being performed at GRC as the Lead Center for Cognitive Communications within NASA and SCaN, and it also fostered collaborative relationships, including international partners and our partners in academia and industry to design NASA’s next generation communication systems.

Nargess Memarsadeghi

Dr. Nargess Memarsadeghi is a Senior Computer Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center  (GSFC),  and is the Lead for GSFC’s Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence (AICOE).  Nargess has two decades of experience in scientific data processing, analysis, and visualization for different NASA scientific and engineering applications.  She currently supports software engineering efforts for science data processing of the Roman Space Telescope (RST).  At the AICOE, she actively facilitates knowledge transfer through forming bidirectional collaborations, organizing seminars and workshops.  She holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park.

September 9, 2021, Webinar Speakers:

Scott McGaunn

Scott McGaunn has been a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for 25 years. During his time with the FBI, he has investigated White Collar Crime, the Russian and Italian Mafias, Cybercrime, Counterterrorism, and Espionage matters.

Special Agent McGaunn is an FBI certified Firearms Instructor, a member of the FBI’s Evidence Response Team, a Certified Police Instructor, and FBI Adjunct Faculty member, teaching FBI coursework to police agencies domestically and abroad. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, his MSCJ from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and his M.B.A. from Bentley University. He currently teaches “Issues in Cybercrime and Cyber Security” as an adjunct faculty member at UMass- Lowell.

In addition, Special Agent McGaunn was nominated for the 2018 Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention, and the 2018 FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Criminal Investigation for his involvement in an international corporate espionage investigation. Agent McGaunn is the Alpha Team Leader for Operation Warp Speed, the government’s full-scale effort to secure the development and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine.  He currently is also involved in training and speaking to the private sector and academia about cyber threats, corporate espionage, counterintelligence matters, insider threats, and intellectual property theft on behalf of the FBI.

Dick Wilkins

Richard “Dick” Wilkins is Principal Technology Liaison for Phoenix Technologies Ltd., a US-based independent platform firmware (BIOS) development company. He is also an Associate Professor of Computer Science and Cybersecurity at Thomas College in central Maine (recently retired). Dr. Wilkins sits on the board of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface forum (UEFI) and leads their Security Response Team. He is active in several other international standards bodies (TCG, PCI-SIG, DMTF, FIDO, and others). He is a leader in the IEEE at the Section level and in the Computer Society and is active in the ACM and PMI. He has over 30 years industry experience in roles from software engineer to director of engineering at companies like Hewlett-Packard, Digital Equipment Corp., Microsoft, Amazon.com, and several smaller firms. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dickwilkins/)

Prof. Wilkins holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL; a Master of Science in Computer Science from the National Technological University, Fort Collins, CO and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Saint Thomas University, Miami, FL.

Dan Shoemaker

Dr. Dan Shoemaker received a doctorate from the University of Michigan in 1978. He taught at Michigan State University and then moved to the Directorship of the information systems function for the Medical schools at MSU.

He held a joint teaching and Department Chair position at Mercy College of Detroit. When Mercy was consolidated with the University of Detroit in 1990 he moved to the Business School to Chair their Department of Computer Information Systems (CIS). He attended the organizational roll-out of the discipline of software engineering at the Carnegie-Mellon University Software Engineering Institute in the fall of 1987, and he was already teaching a SEI-based software engineering curriculum, which he established as a separate degree program to the MBA within the UDM College of Business Administration.

Dr. Shoemaker’s specific areas of scholarship, publication, and teaching were the process-based stages of the waterfall; specification, SQA, and acceptance/sustainment. He was also a primary consultant in the Detroit area on the CMM/CMMI.

Dr. Shoemaker’s transition into cybersecurity came as a result of the audit and compliance elements of that body of knowledge, as well as the long-established SQA/SCM elements of their curriculum. They were designated the 39th Center of Academic Excellence by the NSA/DHS at West Point in 2004, and they have tried to stay on the leading edge in the architectural aspects of cybersecurity system design and implementation as well as software assurance.

As a result of Dr. Shoemaker’s associations with NSA/DHS and his interest in software assurance, he participated in the earliest meetings of the software assurance initiative. He was one of the three authors of the Common Body of Knowledge to Produce, Acquire and Sustain Software (2006), and he Chaired the Workforce Education and Training committee from 2007-2010. He was Chair of Workforce Training and Education for the Software Assurance Initiative at DHS (2007-2012), and he was a subject matter expert for NICE (2009 and NICE II – 2010-11), Securely Provision. Dr. Shoemaker was also an SME for the CSEC2017 (Human Security).

He also published frequently in the Build-Security-In website.

This exposure led to a grant to develop curricula for software assurance and the founding of the Center for Cybersecurity where he currently resides. The Center is a free-standing academic unit in the College of Liberal Arts, which is the administrative locus for Research Centers within UDM. Dr. Shoemaker’s final significant grant was from the DoD to develop a curriculum and teaching and course material for Secure Acquisition (in conjunction with the Institute for Defense Analysis and the National Defense University). A book was subsequently published by CRC press.

Bill Leigher

Rear Admiral (retired) William Leigher served in the United States Navy for 33 years in intelligence and cryptologic warfare.  His career spanned the Cold War, Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terrorism.  His many Navy assignments included the Deputy Director for Information Technology and Communications at Commander, Naval Security Group Command, Fort Meade, Maryland, and at the National Security Agency where he served as a Senior Operations Officer in the National Security Operations Center.  He served as the Commanding Officer Naval Information Operations Command in Norfolk, Va. where he was selected to flag rank in 2008.  As a Flag Officer, he focused on cyber warfare, serving as the Director of Information Operations on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations, as the Deputy Commander for U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. 10th Fleet, and the Director of Warfare Integration for Information Dominance on the Navy Staff in the Pentagon.  He retired from the Navy in 2014 and worked in the defense industry focusing on developing cyber capabilities for the military.  Rear Admiral Leigher is a native of Maine and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Southern Maine and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.