Female cybersecurity research expert receives NRF C2 rating

24 February 2022

Prof Joey Jansen van Vuuren, a distinguished scholar and Head of Department at the Tshwane University of Technology’s department of Computer Science, is now a National Research Foundation (NRF) C2 rated researcher. 

Prof Joey Jansen van Vuuren, a distinguished scholar and Head of Department at the Tshwane University of Technology’s department of Computer Science.

In addition to being a rated researcher, Prof Jansen van Vuuren has done pioneering work in Cybersecurity during her 30-year career in this field. Among many other achievements, she applied for and received a grant of R2 250 000 from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for a project “Towards a Collaborative and Automated Cybersecurity Threat Intelligence Exchange Platform” that focuses on building a collaborative and automated cybersecurity information exchange platform for the Higher Education Sector of South Africa. The drive behind her application is her strong belief in the importance of collaboration between universities, industry and research institutions.

A C2 rating from the NRF indicates that all of the reviewers of Prof Jansen van Vuuren’s research, are firmly convinced that she is an established researcher as described and that she has been recognised internationally for the quality and impact of her recent research outputs.

Prof Jansen van Vuuren holds a Doctorate degree in Cybersecurity. For her PhD dissertation, she focused on Cybersecurity Governance and Policy on the African context. 

She has presented at numerous forums, such as national and international conferences.  She has been invited as a keynote speaker at three international and one local conference and has participated in two local and two international technical panels. She has twelve publications in journals and was editor of two international journals. In addition, she has presented at two local and thirty-four international conferences, wrote two academic book chapters and published one academic book. She also wrote six technical reports. 

During her 30 years in academia and research, she has specialized in the fields of Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, Programming and Operational Research.  Two Doctoral and five Masters’ students completed their qualifications under her supervision.  She is currently supervising nine Masters’ students and three potential doctoral students. In addition, she has examined several Masters dissertations and Doctoral theses locally and internationally.

Through her research, Prof Jansen van Vuuren aims to make a profound impact on the enhancement of cybersecurity in the government sector. As the Research Group Leader for Information Warfare at the CSIR, she established a group with a focus on Cybersecurity to support the government sector and the SANDF on Cyber Defense. She also initiated several cybersecurity government initiatives in South Africa while working for the CSIR as the research group leader and as manager of the Cybersecurity Centre of Innovation.  Her contribution includes the start of the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies Cybersecurity Hub, the South Africa's National Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT). As part of these initiatives, an Internet Simulator was built at the CSIR, used for evaluating hardware and software for the government as well as the NESL, a part of the internet simulator project that focuses on the training of personnel in network attacks and other cyber defense related issues. These facilities are also now available to TUT researchers as part of a recently signed MOA with the CSIR.

Prof Jansen van Vuuren is indeed a force to be reckoned with in technology. She has previously initiated the specialisation courses in Information Technology at the former Technikons, she started several new initiatives for new courses in the Information Technology Learnership Program (ITBLP) learnership, as well as negotiated MOUs with other research institutions.  

She has always been passionate about teachers’ training and led the project for the training of all teachers in the country in the new Information Technology and CAT programmes. She has been involved in Cybersecurity projects in Africa, as well as the European Union and took part in the writing of the strategy for cybercrime for the South Africa Police Services (SAPS). Moreover, she is currently the Vice-Chair of the international body for Computer Scientists International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Working Group 9.10. (WG 9.10 - ICT Uses in Peace and War), as well as member of the executive committee and Vice-Chairperson academic of HEICTA (Higher Education Information and Communication Technology Association).  In addition, the Department of Higher Education appointed her as one of the coordinators of South Africa for the BRICS University Thematic Group Computer Science and Information Security (ITG-CSIS).

One of her future goals is to establish a Centre of Excellence in Cybersecurity and Data Science and an international collaborated Masters’ degree in Cybersecurity at TUT.

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