DCSO’s Purdy selected to prestigious Fulbright Specialist Program, will travel to Iceland to help address cybercrime

January 31, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated January 31, 2024 | 12:53 am

Cheryl Purdy

Daviess County’s Dr. Cheryl Purdy, a digital forensics expert, has been selected for the prestigious Fulbright Specialist Program. She will complete a project at the University of Akureyri in Iceland with objectives that include helping the Icelandic police fight cybercrime.

Purdy is the lead digital forensic examiner/analyst for the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office. She has been with DCSO for 13 years and has performed hundreds of examinations, many of which have helped lead to convictions in both the state and federal systems.

Purdy grew up in Calhoun and attended Kentucky Wesleyan College, where she majored in mathematics. Her teaching career began at Apollo High School, and she later moved to the postsecondary level. She is an adjunct professor at the University of the Cumberlands, Western Kentucky University, and the University of Louisville.

It was her colleagues at UofL that encouraged Purdy to apply for the Fulbright Specialist Program. Purdy applied last spring 

The Fulbright Specialist Program, part of the larger Fulbright Program, was established in 2001 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). 

“The program pairs highly qualified U.S. academics and professionals with host institutions abroad to share their expertise, strengthen institutional linkages, hone their skills, gain international experience, and learn about other cultures while building capacity at their overseas host institutions,” according to the Fulbright website. “… Once abroad, Specialists partner with their host institution to conduct project activities in support of the host institution’s priorities and goals.”

The Fulbright Specialist Program offers year-round project opportunities of two to six weeks in length. 

“Every month they post positions for requests for specialists from other countries. The one from Iceland popped up, and it was like it was written for me,” Purdy said.

The project description reads: “The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Akureyri, Iceland, specifically the Police Studies Department, is looking for a specialist in cyber security and critical infrastructure to (1) help the university further develop and contribute to a course on cybercrime for prospective police officers, (2) help improve the education of current and future police officers in Iceland in matters relating to cybercrime, and (3) use the specialist’s expertise to help the Icelandic police fight cybercrime, which is a rapidly growing problem in Iceland.”

In 2016, police education in Iceland was moved to the university level. In the spring of 2018, the University of Akureyri Police Science program offered a cybercrime course for the first time as part of its 2-year diploma for prospective police officers. The program has brought in 3 specialists since that time and now wants to build up that foundation.

“We want to extend our reach and influence by involving the Icelandic police authorities even more than before in our cyber crime teaching and training, including having a Specialist in Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructure work with The Center for Police Training and Professional Development at the National Police Commissioner of Iceland (MSL) on continuous education training on cybercrime for current police officers. In general, we want to capitalize on the specialist’s expertise to help the Icelandic police fight cybercrime, a rapidly growing problem in Iceland,” the description reads.

Purdy said she’ll conduct two presentations that are open to students, the community, and the police. One of those will be on cybersecurity in general, and one of those will be in her area of expertise, which is digital forensics.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity. I think I have a lot to offer,” she said.

Purdy’s professional experience includes work with the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training, the National White Collar Crime Center, the Secret Service-funded National Computer Forensics Institute, and the American Academy of Applied Forensics.  

Recent awards for her accolades include being selected as the 2021 National Sheriff’s Association Reserve Deputy of the Year, the 2021 New Beginnings (Sexual Assault Support Services) Voice for Change Award, and the 2021 Owensboro Noon Optimist Respect for Law Award. She is a member of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security Cyber Threats Working Group and the International High Technology Crime Investigation Association.  

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the  United States and the people of other countries, according to the Fulbright website. The program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State.

January 31, 2024 | 12:09 am

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