Since he entered academia, Robert Crossler, associate professor of information systems in the WSU Carson College of Business, has had a goal of engaging with people on an international level. Growing up in an impoverished household in Idaho, he had little opportunity to learn about the world, but nevertheless grew up with an appreciation for different cultures.

Positive interaction with international students during his college education, along with professional research trips in other countries as a faculty member in the WSU Carson College of Business, fueled his interest in study abroad and desire to help his students develop a global business perspective.

In March, Crossler earned a Fulbright Scholar Teaching Grant that will allow him to fulfill his dreams of teaching and conducting research internationally. The grant recognizes his leadership and contributions to society during his career.

He also recently was awarded the Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professorship in Management Information Systems that supports faculty to expand their professional development in technological training and exposure to current industry trends and conditions.

“I am honored to receive the Philip L. Kays Distinguished Professorship recognizing accomplishments thus far in my academic career,” said Crossler. “It will help me to continue being a leading scholar in the information security and privacy field and develop doctoral students into emerging scholars in this space as well.”

Crossler has published 31 journal articles, 38 conference papers and has earned three Best Paper awards. His papers have been cited over 2,000 times, and he is recognized as one of the top 50 information systems researchers in the world, according to premier information systems journal rankings.

“The Fulbright award will permit me to fully immerse myself in the Romanian culture and engage in meaningful exchange with the educational, business and broader Romanian communities over an extended period of time,” said Crossler. “I will gain a deeper understanding of what makes this part of the world unique and establish rich relationships that I hope will carry into future collaborations.”

Efforts to focus on cybersecurity education

Next spring, Crossler and his family will board a plane to Romania, where they will live for five months while he teaches a class on information security from a business perspective and works with faculty at the Ovidius University of Constanta to enhance existing cybersecurity courses and lay the groundwork for future educational and cultural exchanges.

It will be Crossler’s second career experience in Romania. In fall 2019, he was part of a WSU contingent that participates in the annual Black Sea and Balkans Security Forum in Romania organized by Ovidius University and other international sponsors. At the forum, he discussed how company employees can make correct security decisions and address internal security threats caused by individuals.

As one of WSU’s faculty experts on cybersecurity, he is passionate about helping Central and Eastern European institutions and companies develop strategic responses to emerging forms of high-tech crime. His work is in keeping with WSU’s Grand Challenges, a suite of research initiatives aimed at large societal issues. It is particularly relevant to the challenge of smart systems and its themes of making lives easier, safer, and more efficient and developing policies to protect the public from abuse of technology.

Why Romania?

Romania is an ideal country in which to conduct his proposed project, Crossler said. Central and Eastern European countries, including Romania, are a growing cybercrime hub. The course he will teach focuses on how to protect organizations and businesses from the very cybercrime that is on the rise. Increased tension between Russia and countries in the Black Sea region also influenced his decision, he said.

“Romania’s cybersecurity issues will further my understanding of the unique nuances of cybersecurity small European countries face,” said Crossler. “By bringing my current expertise to this problem, I hope to not only influence future leaders in this country, but also be a meaningful contributor to current issues of the day and bring back a broader perspective to share with my students at Washington State University.”