Sounds like the makings of a great summer blockbuster movie. But these issues were Emily Baldwin’s reality last summer.
Using her New Global Security Fellowship award, the sophomore worked part-time in a mentorship program that she designed, combining her interest in both computer science and international relations. She assisted staff at Sandia National Laboratories in the International Safeguards and Technology Systems Department on a variety of different projects in support of Sandia’s global security mission.
Sandia develops science-based technologies aimed at national and global security, with a focus on information systems related to international arms control, nuclear nonproliferation, and counterterrorism.
“The majority of my work explored cryptography and its application in an international and political realm,” she said. “Each of the various projects was incredibly interesting.”
One of her main jobs was helping to configure a Virtual Private Network (VPN) test scenario with contacts at Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear, Brazil’s national nuclear authority. The work was in preparation for future use in setting up a shared VPN surveillance system between Brazil and Argentina to transmit public health information. She also was involved with a committee of the Nonproliferation and Cooperative Threat Reduction Center, surveying departmental websites as part of cyber security analysis.
For years, computer intelligence has intrigued Baldwin, who currently works with professors Mark LeBlanc and Betsey Dyer on their genomics research.
In high school, she taught herself programming “just for fun,” and created websites for various organizations. “But it wasn’t until I attended Wheaton that I began to really officially involve myself in computer science. I consider the subject a combination of math and foreign language, which I have always loved.”
Baldwin noted that spending the summer at Sandia in Albuquerque, N.M., helped her narrow down career choices. “With this mentorship I finally encountered a profession that I genuinely enjoy and am interested in pursuing later in life.
“This experience has certainly helped me revise my planned course schedule at Wheaton and will help me with my decisions regarding future internships and professional development,” she said. “After my work with international cyber security, I am excited to focus my classes primarily on computer science courses with a concentration on international, and specifically Latin American, politics.
“What I like about both the public and private sectors of intelligence is the tangible impact that research has on politics and reality. The fact that I can tell exactly what and who my work is impacting and that it may strengthen the security of the nation means quite a bit to me. And regarding cryptography specifically, I think that devising algorithms for decoding is an incredibly interesting challenge that also makes for a dynamic career.”