“The biodefense program was a perfect fit,” he says. “It was flexible, innovative, and provided great balance between the policy realm and technical issues associated with biological threats – a truly unique program.”
Brian emphasizes that his degree not only enriched his ability to participate in his role as an Assistant Director at GAO but also helped him gauge rigorous academic discourse.
“I went to two great international academic conferences during the program, fully funded by the department and other GMU entities; and co-authored an article in a peer-review journal with my professor, Gregory Koblenz, comparing biological and cyber warfare,” he notes. “It was great to be able to engage with both the policy and the academic communities.”
Brian further commends Mason for its accessibility, adjunct faculty members who have real world experience, and convenient evening classes, which suited his full-time work schedule at the GAO.
“The biodefense program sharpened my ability to provide more meaningful recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch, particularly the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community in my role as an Assistant Director at GAO.”
Since graduating, Brian has written two books. The first, co-authored with Professor Brad Thayer – Deterring Cyber Warfare: Bolstering Strategic Stability in Cyberspace – was published last year. The second, which is largely based on his dissertation – The Evolution of Cyber War – is coming out in November 2015. He credits the skills he acquired while studying at Mason with allowing him to advance these scholarly debates.
“Mason has the perfect blend of characteristics,” he says. “A program like biodefense – with its cross-cutting, interdisciplinary content – exists nowhere else. I got a robust technical grounding as well as the general skills that are needed to really think quantitatively and qualitatively. It was a fantastic experience.”