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Recent appointments: Executive Director, UNSW Institute for Cyber Security (IFCYBER)

We are pleased to announce that Professor Debi Ashenden has been appointed as the new Director of the UNSW Institute for Cyber Security (IFCYBER) following an international search. In this role, Professor Ashenden will build and oversee a cutting-edge institute dedicated to advancing cyber strategies, fostering innovation, and equipping the next generation of cyber experts.

Professor Ashenden previously held the Defence, Science and Technology Group-University of Adelaide Joint Chair in Cyber Security.  She is also a visiting Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London and completed her PhD at University College London.

Professor Ashenden has worked extensively within the cyber security industry and UK Government, including a significant tenure at Cranfield University at the UK Defence Academy.

UNSW Canberra Rector and Dean Professor Emma Sparks says she is confident that Professor Ashenden will bring strong leadership to the IFCYBER team.

“Debi has built a wealth of knowledge and experience from an impressive career in cyber security,” Professor Sparks said. “Her experience working at the UK Defence Academy and alongside government positions her well to develop and deliver initiatives that strengthen our cyber programs, but also respond to the increasing need within industry and UNSW’s drive to support lifelong learning through professional education and short courses.”  

UNSW Engineering Dean Professor Julien Epps also welcomed Professor Ashenden and said he was certain she would carry on the university’s history of excellence in cyber security.

“Our research at UNSW balances the technical, practical and human aspects of cyber security,” Professor Epps said.

“From examining the possibilities and pitfalls of artificial intelligence, to identifying cyber threats and exploring the human influences on cyber security, we’re building cyber capability for the future.”

For the full University announcement, click here.

About UNSW  

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is one of Australia’s leading universities ranked in the top 20 universities worldwide, and a member of Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight 

UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) is a Faculty of the University of New South Wales, with a unique focus on defence and security. UNSW Canberra at ADFA has been preparing future global leaders since 1967 as the official education provider for the Australian Defence Force. UNSW Canberra specialises in high-quality undergraduate and postgraduate courses in all areas relating to military, strategic and defence studies, in defence partnerships that are crucial to protecting the security and safety of Australia and its allies. 

UNSW Canberra at ADFA houses more than 200 researchers who are recognised for their research excellence and impact. It is renowned for defence-related research, alongside many other research areas such as bushfire prediction modelling, public sector management, and other applied areas to address complex and contemporary challenges across Australia, the region and the globe.

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About the Institute

The Executive Director and Professor for the UNSW Institute for Cyber Security (IFCYBER) will lead a unique multi-faculty institute to address the sociotechnical complexity of cyber security and coordinate the IFCYBER mission through continuing development and implementation of the IFCYBER strategy. 

Since 2019 UNSW has been developing multidisciplinary education (including micro credentials) and applied research in cyber security. IFCYBER is a multi-campus, cross disciplinary initiative that works with a range of external partners, coordinating and utilising the University’s deep academic expertise in cyber security research, defence research, and technology. IFCYBER’s 100+ members come from all UNSW faculties, with strengths in consumer and engineering, computer science and law, giving a wide span across civil aspects of cyber security as well as national defence aspects, national priorities and regulatory, industry and community concerns.  

The Institute is collectively placing Australia as a leader in multidisciplinary cyber security research, education, innovation, and commercialisation. To ensure the Institute’s research has real-world impact, work is conducted with partners – Defence, government, industry, and community groups. 

Funded projects include development of seL4 microkernel technology – the world’s most advanced cybersecurity technology with support from the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and many more.

UNSW Canberra City Campus

Due to open in early 2025, UNSW Canberra City Campus will support capability growth in critical technologies and national priority areas such as cyber security and artificial intelligence.

The new $1 billion campus will strengthen UNSW’s robust commitment to education, research and innovation in the ACT, building on the strategic partnership that has endured for 55 years in UNSW Canberra at ADFA.

The new, state-of-the-art campus will consist of 14 buildings across eight hectares, and is located in the middle of Canberra’s research and innovation corridor, with other like-minded institutions such as the Defence precinct in Russell and Campbell. It will also become a hub of innovation, with a new Defence and Security Innovation Precinct set to be a key feature of the new campus.

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About the position

The Executive Director will build and oversee a cutting-edge institute dedicated to advancing cyber strategies, fostering innovation, and equipping the next generation of cyber experts. The Executive Director leads collaborations with industry leaders, government agencies, and other academic institutions to develop strategic partnerships and initiatives that drive impactful research and education, promoting knowledge sharing, and addressing emerging cyber threats. 

Specific accountabilities for this role include: 

  • Create an evolving roadmap for implementing the IFCYBER Strategic Plan, establishing the Executive team, and activating enablers to drive the Institute initiatives.
  • Establish external expert advisory committees from across Defence, government, industry, and alumni.
  • Support the overarching objectives of UNSW Strategic Plans, contribute into the Faculty leadership and broader university executive, demonstrating exemplary corporate citizenship.
  • Act as an ambassador for UNSW, and IFCYBER by participating in public events such as thought leadership panels, conference presentations, etc.
  • Effectively administer and allocate institute resources, optimise and operate within budget, and meet relevant corporate governance, legislation and compliance obligations. 

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