Fisher Grad among Recipients of Presidential Award
Dr. Candice Gerstner, a 2006 alumna of St. John Fisher College, was among the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).
A statement issued by the White House this summer described PECASE as the “highest honor bestowed by the United States Government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.” It went on to say that the award acknowledges “contributions scientists and engineers have made to the advancement of science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM) education and to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, and community outreach.”
Today, Gerstner works for the Mathematics Research Office of the National Security Agency (NSA), helping the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense develop solutions to technical problems.
A graduate of the Mathematics Department at Fisher, her path to the NSA began when she was offered a teaching assistantship to attend Old Dominion University (ODU) for graduate school. There, she also served as a research assistant under the supervision of Dr. John Tweed, working on projects for the Space Radiation Group at NASA Langley. Gerstner earned both a master’s degree and doctorate from ODU in computational and applied mathematics.
During her time at ODU, she applied to the National Security Agency’s Applied Mathematics Program. A three-year program, she was able to work on problems in cryptanalysis, machine learning, statistics, and image/video processing. From there, she transitioned to her position with the NSA. Her career highlights include leading a multidisciplinary team of mathematicians, computer and data scientists, and intelligence analysts in developing improvements to the capabilities of image and video authentication.
A proud graduate of the College, Gerstner’s ties to the Fisher family run strong: her aunt, Dr. Barbara Rockell, is director of the criminology and criminal justice program, and her sister and cousin are both Fisher graduates, as well.