Faculty Profile: Dr. John Marsh, Cybersecurity: Network & Computer Security

“Working with students and helping them launch their careers” that is what Dr. John Marsh, Associate Professor of Computer and Information Science, enjoys the most about working at SUNY Poly.

Before entering the world of academics and wearing the multiple hats of an Associate Professor, and Program Chair, Dr. Marsh studied physics in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Carnegie Melon University before receiving a postdoctoral appointment overseas in Paris.

Upon his return to the United States, Marsh taught physics for students enrolled in the photonics program at SUNY Poly. After roughly five years, he temporarily left SUNY Poly and joined high-tech industry, where he held various research and product management positions in the fiber optic testing and photonic integrated circuits. It was during this time that one of his career stops led him to become a cybersecurity researcher at AIS in Rome – an organization with deep roots to SUNY Poly.

“Most of the world came late to the realization of how important information assurance and network security is to our modern lives. The founders of Assured Information Security (AIS), both SUNY Poly alums, recognized this early on, and I pursued an opportunity to join AIS and become fully immersed in the field.”

There he gained a vast amount of first-hand experience, all of which he carried with him when, in 2007, he returned to the SUNY Poly classroom and his passion for teaching and helping to guide the careers of the next generation of innovators.

With all those experiences, Dr. Marsh certainly has a lot of wisdom to offer students looking to step into the world of cybersecurity. And the most important thing he says any student can do is to get themselves immersed in the field with their own projects.

“Read about cybersecurity topics in order to familiarize themselves with the field and the current issues at hand,” he says. “Working hard to learn the networking and computing fundamentals while immersing oneself in technology news and blogs will allow one to acquire an insider view of the industry, and that’s a big plus”.

Despite its widespread popularity and appeal today, Dr. Marsh is quick to note that cybersecurity was not always a mainstream field. In fact, when he began as a researcher, it was what many would consider a niche. Reflecting back on that time, Dr. Marsh sees what a drastic change the world and the field have gone through, becoming a completely mainstream concept. In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to find articles online, in print, or on TV about security breaches and Internet security, emphasizing what an extremely fast-growing industry it has become. He says  cybersecurity is not an easy field to keep up with, but provides him with a wonderful challenge and forces him to keep engaged with a number of colleagues in the industry.

With the field of cybersecurity ever-increasing with each passing day, there is a growing need to fill positions with individuals who possess both technical and non-technical backgrounds. With that in mind, Dr. Marsh says it is important for students to recognize that the programs they have access to at SUNY Poly are heavily oriented towards the technical side of computer science, which is where the vast majority of entry-level opportunities for graduates lie. As students make their way through the coursework and experiential learning of cybersecurity, the academic advisory board offers the next step, helping students connect with real world opportunities to work in the field.

And while he certainly has a full plate developing, managing, and teaching in the Network and Computer Security programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level, Dr. Marsh does still find some time to enjoy his passions, such as playing guitar in a band made up of some of his closest friends.

But when he’s not rocking out, his mind moves from guitar strings to strings of coding and problem-solving, constantly keeping up to date on the latest cybersecurity issues, data security, privacy, and the growing importance of these topics in our lives.

“The growth in the field of cybersecurity is only going to  continue, and we expect our academic programs to grow along with it. We will continue to see great demand for our NCS program graduates as the world continues to evolve into an ever more-connected place.”

SUNY Poly now offers the master’s degree program online – read more about the online Cybersecurity: NCS program.