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DST Cyber researcher wins ADM Women in Defence Award

Ms Amy Stringfellow (centre) is researching mission-critical workflows to help field commanders understand their cyber dependencies. Photo: Defence

A DST researcher, Ms Amy Stringfellow, has been awarded the ADM Women in Defence ‘Rising Star’ award for her achievements in Defence science, and especially cyber research. Amy is researching and developing next-generation technologies that will enable the ADF to execute missions in contested cyber environments.

“Our particular work program is aimed at informing decision-making,” she explains.

“We are interested in providing military commanders with a clear, timely understanding of their cyber dependencies and how that impacts their missions. By automatically mapping mission-critical workflows undertaken by warfighters to the underlying cyber assets, commanders and their network defenders can prioritise the defence of their networks and systems.”

One of her team’s major breakthroughs has been a world-leading, proof-of-concept experimental system that uses natural language information flows such as emails, chat logs and working documents to identify and chart complex military processes without human assistance.  This is a critical capability for automatically identifying how military missions depend on critical cyber resources.

Amy conceived and co-authored the innovative machine-assisted web-based application that enabled the rapid labelling of a large body of military natural language documents, producing data sets that were essential for training and testing the team’s machine learning algorithms.  She additionally researched, coded and conducted experiments on machine learning pipelines used to analyse the data.

Cyber mission mapping is of interest to militaries around the world and Amy and her team are working closely with cyber experts from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington DC, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratories (MIT LL) in Boston and US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii.

Amy described her Rising Star award as ‘greatly encouraging’, emphasising that it was very much a team effort. “It’s really nice for the work of the team to be recognised,” she says. “It’s all about what we’ve managed to achieve together.”

In addition to her research, Amy is a role model and champion of STEM careers in Defence, particularly for girls and young women.

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