Dr. Dena Haritos Tsamitis
Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking
Founding Director, Education, Training and Outreach, Cylab
Dena Haritos Tsamitis has led the College of Engineering's Information Networking Institute (INI) as director since 2004. Her efforts have prepared the next generation of information networking, security, and mobile and IoT engineering professionals at Carnegie Mellon University. She joined the university in 2000, serving first as the INI's associate director in 2002 before assuming the role of director in 2004.
Under her direction, the INI has spanned globally to offer programs in Greece, Portugal and Japan and has led the innovative design of bicoastal programs offered at the Silicon Valley campus. As the INI's associate director from 2002-2004, Dena established a master's program in Athens that was the first Carnegie Mellon degree offered at a global location. Her research on transnational university partnership programs has influenced the framework and use of innovative delivery models for numerous degree programs.
As a student advocate and mentor of women in technology, Dena is passionate about increasing diversity in STEM fields. In 2005, she co-founded the student organization, Women@INI (WINI), to address the unique challenges faced by women in the male-dominated field of engineering. To extend WINI’s influence beyond the INI, she established a partnership with the Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) on Information Security, Risk Management, and Privacy. In addition to providing scholarship funds, the partnership offers invaluable networking and mentorship opportunities to develop women leaders in information security and privacy. Dena’s efforts have impacted INI students and alumni alike; in 2008, she established Graduate Organization@INI (GOINI) and in 2010, the INI Alumni Leadership Council.
Dena led efforts to attain Carnegie Mellon’s three distinct federal designations as a National Center of Academic Excellence for its merits in information assurance and cyber defense (CAE-IA/CD), research (CAE-R) and cyber operations (CAE-Cyber Ops). Through these efforts, Dena serves as principal investigator on the National Science Foundation (NSF) CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) and the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP), formerly the Information Assurance Scholarship Program (IASP), and has been awarded approximately $28M in federal scholarships under these programs for students who serve our nation. She was also the principal investigator on the NSF Information Assurance Capacity Building Program (IACBP). The IACBP was an intensive summer program to help build information assurance education and research capacity at minority-serving colleges and universities, which benefitted ninety-one faculty from 48 institutions. Dena continues to build upon this longstanding partnership with participating HBCUs and HSIs, including serving on the board for the Norfolk State University Information Assurance Research, Education and Development Institute.
Dena is a founding director of Carnegie Mellon CyLab, for which she spearheaded efforts in cybersecurity education, training and outreach. She established the MySecureCyberspace initiative to raise "cyberawareness" in Internet users of all ages through a portal, game, and curriculum. Since its launch in 2005, the initiative reached over one million people in 167 countries, including more than 48K users in 30 countries of the Carnegie Cyber Academy and Game.
Dena has served on a number of university committees, including Carnegie Mellon’s global campus committee and three cycles of the strategic planning committee. In the College of Engineering, she has served on the 2019 Dean’s Search committee, co-chaired the Global Campus committee and was an inaugural member of the Diversity committee. As a guest speaker at conferences and events, Dena has presented on a range of topics from cybersecurity and transnational university partnerships, to impostor syndrome and gender inclusivity in tech.
Currently, Dena is a member of the American College of Greece Board of Trustees and serves on the board for the RSA Conference, EWF, Bolster (formerly RedMarlin, Inc.), Prime Tech Partners, Minorities in Cybersecurity, Inc., and St. Clair Hospital Foundation. She has previously served on several advisory councils, including the Education Advisory Council for the U.S. Air Force's Cyber Innovation Center and the Advisory Board for the Master of Software Assurance Curriculum, and was a founding member of the Advisory Board for the Executive Doctorate at University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.
For her achievements in information security and education, Dena was named 2018 Woman in IT Security Power Player by SC Magazine and received the 2008 Women of Influence Award, presented by Alta Associates and CSO Magazine. Carnegie Mellon honored Dena with the 2012 Barbara Lazarus Award for Graduate Student and Junior Faculty Mentoring in recognition of her leadership promoting equality and inclusion as well as her long-standing commitment to mentoring graduate students and faculty. In 2017, Dena was named as the first recipient of the endowed Barbara Lazarus Professorship in Information Networking at Carnegie Mellon University.