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Majors & Degrees

Incredible Impact

January 20, 2022

“I love a good challenge,” said Dakota State doctoral student Lisa McKee.

She has never backed down from a problem throughout her IT career, and after 20 years, she still is eager to take on industry-wide challenges.

As part of her graduate work in cyber defense at DSU, she studies privacy risk. Through a graduate research initiative award (GRI) in 2020, she researched “Holistic Solutions to Data Privacy Assessments.” In 2021, she received a GRI to follow up on that work, for “Understanding and Managing Privacy Risk.”

With this project she hopes to determine a new industry standard, working from the privacy assessment side to create a new model and write standards. She has been writing for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on risk standards, and “I propose to bring it back and refresh it or start new from scratch.” Throughout her 20 years in IT, she has used simple, understandable English to write industry standards that companies use when building out policies.

“My hope and goal is that when I get through with the ANSI work, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will adopt this and it will be the global standard.” This could make a huge impact, an exciting challenge for the Omaha native.

Her doctoral advisor, Dr. Kevin Streff agrees.

“The results of these projects will impact international data privacy standards, and she is working with international agency powers to do that. This is an incredibly impactful, large-scale, and thought-provoking project,” he stated. He is a professor in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, and Coordinator for the Ph.D. in Cyber Defense.

She takes it in stride. “I like to contribute to the profession,” she stated on a Cyber Conversations (a weekly virtual presentation of the DSU outreach program CybHER).

McKee is a Senior Manager of Security and Privacy solutions at Protiviti. She also does consulting, public speaking, training, outreach, is a mentor through professional organizations, and is an adjunct instructor in The Beacom College. 

McKee will also be speaking on privacy risk and assessments at the RSA conference in summer 2022. This is the largest industry security conference in the world, Streff stated, one of the first and most recognized conferences, so this is an amazing accomplishment.

“This is an indication of Lisa and her work,” he said, “that she has a global impact and a global stage on which to share her expertise.”

Her expertise is growing, through work in the doctoral program.

“The essence of a Ph.D. program and the distinction between a master’s is the research component,” explained Streff. Master’s programs work to create the best practitioners in the world, but a Ph.D. program is all about research.

“It’s about scientific improvements we can do so the cyber defense discipline gets better. This is vital and is what a Ph.D. program is all about,” Streff said.

McKee had been looking for a doctoral program to continue her education. “The program has to be the right fit for someone considering graduate school, and it has taken me years to find the right program, and this one is perfect for me.”

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