You may recall that we told you a few weeks ago about a new research and development partnership with the Republic of Korea (ROK)—a joint effort to test the Common Viewer Air System, technology that will allow international airports to more readily share pre-screening information and secure the international travel space. Now, I’m happy to share word of another exciting venture with ROK: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) recently entered into the Department of State’s Embassy Science Fellows (ESF) Program, sending S&T’s first-ever ESF Fellow to Seoul to work on projects that will have positive impacts on national security, economic development, and international collaboration.
S&T’s Office of Science and Engineering, Systems Engineering and Standards division, has posted a subject matter expert in ROK since May as part of a three-month ESF deployment, and will be succeeded by a Fellow from the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The ESF Program provides a great opportunity for S&T to gain firsthand perspective on R&D capabilities, expand S&T scientific networks, build interagency alliances, and strengthen the Department’s and Administration’s relationship with ROK. Having staff in-country allows S&T to acquire insight and understanding that simply couldn’t be achieved on a DC-Seoul conference call alone. This assignment will help DHS (through S&T and CISA) continue to forge stronger alliances in ROK and across Asia. The collaboration will also showcase both nations’ strengths in science, technology, and innovation as we explore our shared cyber interests.
During this initial fellowship, AI and ML will be a focus because they are foundational to our security mission and strategy, an integral part of economic security, and essential to an understanding of the broader threat landscape. Recent cyberattacks in the U.S. and resulting concerns about potential fuel and meat shortages lend a real urgency and timeliness to this collaboration; MSIT has also indicated that investments in ROK’s infrastructure are a top priority. We’re all working together to examine and bolster our critical infrastructure in order to prevent cybersecurity threats moving forward.
Previous experience working internationally is not a prerequisite for participating in ESF, but a strong IT background is uniquely suited to this opportunity. While stationed in Seoul, they will draw on four decades of experience working in IT and previous in-country engagements.
When embarking on this new mission, a question was posed “How do we implement disruptive change without disruption and move the ball forward in a collective way?” We look forward to sharing updates on how we are doing just that.
For more information about S&T’s global partnerships, learn about our International Cooperative Programs Office, which coordinates S&T’s participation in the ESF Program. And for more about S&T work in cybersecurity, view our Cybersecurity Research page.