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Sarah and John Graves invest in cybersecurity initiatives

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John Graves (BS ’74) is interested in strengthening national security through advancements in law enforcement and cyber defense technology. Graves earned his undergraduate degree in criminal justice studies from The University of Tulsa and served as a Tulsa Police Officer before establishing an independent oil and gas company, and then Cyclonic Valve Co. in the 1980s. He and wife Sarah are long-time supporters of The University of Tulsa and created the Sarah and John Graves Trustee Scholarship Endowment Fund as a permanent source of financial assistance for students in the Tandy School of Computer Science who plan to work in cybersecurity.

sarah and john graves

In 2015, the couple made an additional generous commitment to support several multidisciplinary initiatives to develop cybersecurity professionals, drive innovation and inspire research.

“TU has been at the forefront in both academic and applied computer science advances, and it’s an honor to be a part of the exciting things taking place there,” John said.

The Graveses’ connection to cybersecurity is rooted in John’s interest in criminal justice issues and policies as well as Cyclonic’s efforts to develop its proprietary line of control valves, receive patents and commercialize products.

“The protection of our designs, drawings and other intellectual property became paramount,” John said. “Even more importantly for all of us today is the threat of cyber terrorism. Our lightning speed advances in computer science have unwittingly moved the online threat from not just financial risk but now to national security risk.”

The following endowments reflect John and Sarah’s personal mission to support research and advancements in cybersecurity, beginning in the 2016-17 academic year.

Sarah and John Graves Cybersecurity Initiatives

The Cybersecurity Fellowship
The fellowship provides funding for a dedicated master of science computer science student that can perform systems and software support for research, classes and outreach programs for cybersecurity projects. The award includes tuition, a stipend, travel budget for training and technology funding for access to critical resources.

The TU Cyber Defense Center (TU CDC)
TU’s CDC improves cybersecurity by addressing the global presence of cyber crime. The center helps counter threats through hands-on initiatives that span teaching, research and service such as the nonprofit anti-malware organization StopBadware, the TU Malware Analysis Center, which serves corporations and government agencies seeking to protect their networks, and competitive learning through the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition and the Capture the Flag program.

The Multidisciplinary Security Innovation Initiative
The project creates structure and funding to foster and develop innovative ideas regarding the design and commercialization of security-related products and services.

The Cybersecurity Research Project Enhancement Fund
The fund allows for the purchase of preliminary data to serve as a foundation for attracting external research support from federal agencies and industrial sponsors. Example expenses include wearable devices, drones, hardware and wireless development kits, specialized software tools and licenses and vehicle system components.

The Cybersecurity Network/Technology Lab Support and Infrastructure Enhancement Fund
The allotment provides funding for a part-time network infrastructure technician to oversee the management of TU’s cybersecurity technology platforms. The funding also covers licenses for software critical to pursuing cybersecurity education and research initiatives.

The Cybersecurity Research Travel Award
The award assists undergraduate and graduate students involved in cybersecurity research by providing travel funds for conferences and professional meetings to make presentations.

The Cybersecurity Distinguished Lecture Series
The series invites leading experts to campus to discuss current cybersecurity topics. The lectures establish a dialogue between TU faculty and students and the visiting speaker, which often leads to collaborations. The speaker series also elevates TU’s state and nationwide exposure as the home of a top cybersecurity program. The lecture series budget covers travel costs and honoraria for lecturers.

Graves credits TU faculty for effectively developing and implementing the multi-faceted initiatives, specifically Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jeremy Daily, Tandy Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology John Hale, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Peter Hawrylak, Tandy Professor of Computer Science Engineering Rose Gamble, Tandy Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Tyler Moore and Associate Professor of Computer Science Mauricio Papa.

“These initiatives may evolve, but every component of this original program seems to have been embraced by faculty and students,” Graves said. “We are also very grateful for the support given by Dr. Wainwright and Dr. Sorem.”

Sarah and John have committed a third year of funding for the 2018-19 academic term. To learn more about supporting the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, please contact natalie-adams@utulsa.edu.