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Meet CCI's First Batch of Summer Interns

For the first time, interns have joined the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative in Arlington, Virginia this summer and are busy conducting meaningful research and learning the ropes as cybersecurity professionals from CCI faculty and researchers.

Hailing from the sea breezy Coastal Virginia region, to the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Southwest region, and the lively bustle of Northern Virginia, we welcome to CCI's main operations in Arlington six interns representing Old Dominion University, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech — all lead institutions of CCI’s statewide network.

Portrait of Efat Fathalla

Efat Fathalla

  • University affiliation: Old Dominion University
  • Education: Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Research focus: Cybersecurity, IoT, Communications
  • What she hopes to accomplish this summer: Learn about secure 5G communication and perform experiments in the real 5G tests provided by CCI
  • What first drew her to cybersecurity: The fact that society’s daily routine became online, which makes her wonder how vulnerable humans are. “The impact of cyber attacks and security breaches reaches beyond the digital world. Discovering vulnerabilities in any automated system is like a complicated puzzle you are investing your effort to solve.”

Efat and Cyber

  • Something that excites her in her field is the continuous computation between attacks and defenses.

  • She first discovered her passion for cyber work when she realized the significant impact that cybersecurity breaches can have on others' lives.

  • She finds the most joy in her work when she discovers the vulnerabilities of a system and gets to collaborate with other researchers on how to design a secure solution.

Fun Facts about Efat

  • When visitors come from out of town, the first place she’d take them is: “The beach, where fresh air, relaxation, and meditation are found.”

  • Favorite quote: “Every great move forward in your life begins with a leap of faith, a step into the unknown.”

  • The best advice she’s ever received was from her best friend and advisor: "Always avoid unnecessary confrontations."



Portrait of Moy Joseph

Moy Joseph

  • University affiliation: Old Dominion University

  • Education: Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering with a minor in Computer Science and Engineering Management, and concentration in Computer Networks

  • Research focus: "5G Beamforming Oriented Topology Control for mmWave Networks" project, and a mini-project in open radio access networks


Moy and Cyber

  • What excites him the most in his field is that he can use what he learns to make people’s lives better and easier.

  • He first discovered his passion for this work when he took a networking course last year because it was very interesting and boosted his interest to further expand his knowledge in networking.

  • He finds the most joy in his work when he gets his tasks done on time and efficiently, and satisfies his supervisor’s expectations.

Fun Facts about Moy

  • His hidden talent: He’s a talented soccer player! He was the captain of his high school team, but ultimately, his passion to get his college degree “overshadowed his love for the game of soccer.”

  • Books currently on his nightstand: Rich Dad Poor Dad, Richest Man in Babylon, 1984, and the Great Controversy.

  • Best advice he ever received: “Don’t let compliments get into your head and don’t let criticism get to your heart.”


Portrait of Gunnar Nelson

Gunnar Nelson

  • University affiliation: Virginia Tech
  • Education: Masters in Computer Science and Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry
  • Research focus: AI in medicine with a certification in Human-Computer Interaction
  • What he hopes to learn this summer: Enhance his strengths as a software engineer and apply what he has known to make an impact in the work he sets out to do in the future
  • What first drew him to cybersecurity: His location in DC, seeing the United States government enacting their cybersecurity infrastructure, and learning about the new challenges and problems with the autonomy to think on applicable solutions since novel technology and challenges are rapidly evolving in patient’s data for healthcare

Gunnar and Cyber

  • Something that excites him in his field: The overarching impact of what applications AI can make in the face of medicine ranging from the impacts of machine learning in robotic surgery, to personalized medicine in diagnosis. 

  • How his work impacts society: "Economic impact is never about just the technology, but how it can be utilized as a tool to solve the problem."

  • Other researchers he admires: Dr. Ayanna Howard, Paul Judge, Timnit Gebru, and Ray Kurzweil. 

Fun Facts About Gunnar

  • His no-fail, power track, motivational song is: “The Touch” by Stan Bush from the 1986 Transformers Movie.

  • Books currently on his nightstand: Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman, AI in Healthcare by Tom Lawry, Health Design Thinking by Bon Ku MD with Ellen Lupton, and Call Sign Chaos by General James Mattis.

  • Favorite quote:  “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” — Bruce Lee



Portrait of Javad SabzehAli Touranposhti

Javad SabzehAli Touranposhti

  • University affiliation: Virginia Tech
  • Education:  Ph.D. candidate at Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tehran, Iran
  • Research focus: UAV Communications, Wireless Communications, Machine Learning, and Security
  • What he hopes to accomplish this summer:  Implement a 5G testbed in the CBRS frequency band, while learning how to work with different types of USRPs

Javad and Cyber

  • Another researcher he admires is Professor Jeffrey H. Reed.

  • He found the most joy in his work when he published his first paper.

Fun Facts about Javad

  • His no-fail, power track, motivational song: “In The End” by Linkin Park.

  • His hidden talent: personal training.
  • When visitors come from out of town the first place he takes them is the Lincoln Memorial.
Portrait of Patricia Tran

Patricia Tran

  • University affiliation: George Mason University
  • Education: Masters in Health Informatics with a concentration in Data Analytics 
  • Research focus: 5G-enabled wearable technology in healthcare
  • What she hopes to learn this summer: More about leveraging multi-access edge computing (MEC) and 5G technology to support IoMT and clinical decision making
  • What drew her to cybersecurity: The increasing need to recognize vulnerabilities and combat cyberattacks that threaten patient privacy, safety, and the delivery of quality care

Patricia and Cyber

  • Something that excites her in her field: The explosive growth of healthcare data, as well as the immense opportunities for advancement in areas such as AI and telehealth.

  • She first discovered her passion for this work as a clinician in the hospital, recognizing the potential for improved patient care and health outcomes through technological solutions. 

  • She finds the most joy in her work when: She is collaborating across disciplines to find meaningful, innovative solutions that benefit others.

Fun Facts About Patricia

  • The last time she stepped out of her comfort zone was: “living out of a car for two weeks on a cross-country roadtrip to see some National Parks.”

  • If she had to choose one prized possession it would be: "My sweet dog - an American Eskimo named Lily.”

  • When visitors come from out of town, the first place she’d take them would be: “the closest boba tea shop.”

We’re excited to see what our interns accomplish during their time at CCI and how they apply what they learn to their careers!

Contact: Michele McDonald