“It has been a long journey, but every hurdle was worth it,” says Mercy Chitauro, a lecturer in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics. This week, she will become NUST’s latest PhD graduate when she obtains a Doctorate of Philosophy in Computer Science, making her the first female Computer Science, and the seventh PhD graduate produced by NUST. The University offers Doctoral Degrees in three of its six faculties.
Chitauro is determined to break barriers and make uplift the profile of women in this male-dominated field. Her research topic was ‘A Bio-Immunology Inspired Security Model for Industrial Control System Defence from Advanced Persistent Threats.’
She answered a few questions for The Tech recently.
Q: What inspired you to pursue this field?
A: I have always enjoyed computer networking and with the rise of malicious software and malicious intent of the use of digital systems. So, naturally, I gravitated to cyber security because digital networks are used in most cases to connect to victims by perpetrators of these malicious intents.
Q: What was your research centered on?
A: My research was focused on finding solutions to attacks termed advanced persistent threats that attack industrial control systems. The solution was inspired by studying the biological immune system.
Q: What was the biggest challenge during this journey and how did you overcome it?
A: The biggest challenge was marrying the different domains. I had a strong computer science background but the application domain was in control systems (engineering) and the solution was from yet another domain; immunology.
As such, it was quite a challenge to bring it all together but I managed by reading, reading and more reading as well as researching and engaging experts in the other fields.
Q: Where to from here?
A: Well, I have been working at NUST for close to a decade, so I am looking forward to continue ploughing back into the community and imparting knowledge to students. I am also eager to continue learning and keep up with the fast-paced technological advancements.