Indiana University sophomore Kathryn Riordan is among 15 students nationally to be awarded a Foreign Affairs Information Technology (FAIT) Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State. Riordan is a Cybersecurity and Global Policy major, a joint degree between the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies and the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
The two-year fellowship is awarded to highly qualified candidates who are studying IT-related fields and are interested in Foreign Service careers. After completing the FAIT Fellowship program and the Foreign Service entry requirements, Fellows receive appointments as Foreign Service Information Management Specialists.
The FAIT Fellowship offers recipients:
- Up to $75,000 in academic funding over two years (junior and senior years of a bachelor’s degree program or a two-year master’s degree program)
- Two summer internships – one at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. and one at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas
- Professional development and personalized mentoring during the fellowship program
“I’m excited that this fellowship will allow me to try something new and engage with diplomats on technology topics,” said Riordan.
A Shreve Scholar, Riordan said that Indiana University’s dedicated international studies school and interdisciplinary programs influenced her decision to attend.
“I came to IU because I was interested in technology, public policy, and international studies, and the Cybersecurity and Global Policy program allowed me to combine my interests,” she shared. “The seamless fit of this Fellowship speaks to the relevance of this program in today’s diplomatic landscape.”
Riordan has had many opportunities to explore the intersection between technology and global security. She recently worked on a U.S. Department of State project through the IU Diplomacy Lab focusing on artificial intelligence (AI).
“For the project, we researched the importance of human rights in current AI legislation,” said Riordan. “We ultimately presented our research to 300 State Department employees, which was exciting. This past spring, I also facilitated student researchers in drafting a strategy to integrate AI into a process for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.”
Riordan is currently a researcher in the Luddy Security and Privacy Lab, where she conducted a user experience (UX) study on the Tor web browser. She was recognized for this work with the 2021 Executive Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity award.
“The goal of the research is to make the Tor browser’s anonymity tool easier for those living in restrictive regimes to use, protecting their civil liberties and rights to share and receive information,” she explained.
Riordan is involved in multiple student and professional organizations. She is the chapter president of the Women in Cybersecurity student organization, a Luddy Ambassador, a technician in Luddy Makerspaces, and was a summer consultant for the Department of Defense Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division.
“These experiences have shaped my interest in foreign service, specifically in information management,” said Riordan. “As a Cybersecurity and Global Policy student, I see this path as a perfect fit to combine my long-held fascination with diplomacy and digital connections. I look forward to what a future in foreign affairs could hold.”