Meet the Faculty of the UW Master’s in Cybersecurity

webteam November 24, 2020

The faculty of the online University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Cybersecurity is one of its greatest strengths. You won’t find another cybersecurity program—online or otherwise—that brings such diverse expertise together in one place. That’s because the MS in Cybersecurity program is a collaboration among UW Extended Campus and eight University of Wisconsin institutions: UW–Green Bay, UW–La Crosse, UW–Oshkosh, UW–Parkside, UW–Platteville, UW–River Falls, UW–Stevens Point, and UW–Superior. Each faculty member brings a unique background of industry experience and education to the program offering students a truly multidisciplinary experience.

Meet the Faculty

Jennifer Butler Modaf, PhD | UW–La Crosse 

Jennifer Butler Modaf, PhD, is an associate professor in communication studies at UW–La Crosse.

Dr. Butler Modaf earned a PhD in Communication Studies with a Certificate in Gender Studies, an MA in Sociology/Criminology, and a BA in Sociology/Criminology, all from Ohio University.


Suresh Chalasani, PhD | UW–Parkside 

Suresh Chalasani, PhD, is a professor of Management Information Systems and the Associate Dean for Nontraditional Programs in the College of Business, Economics, and Computing (CBEC) at UW-Parkside.

Dr. Chalasani manages programs designed for a nontraditional student body and/or using a nontraditional format. These programs currently include Flexible Option Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Online Bachelor of Science in Business Management, MS in Information Technology Management (Online), and MS in Cybersecurity (Online). He teaches in a number of other undergraduate programs as well, including Health Information Management and Technology, Sustainable Management, and Project Management. He also teaches in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Master of Science (MS) in Healthcare Administration graduate programs. For more than a decade, Dr. Chalasani has been teaching in the consortium MBA program, which was recently ranked among the top ten online MBA programs by the US News and World Report.

Dr. Chalasani earned his PhD from the University of Southern California.

Ruxin Dai, PhD | UW–River Falls

Ruxin Dai, PhD, is an assistant professor at UW–River Falls.

Dr. Dai received her PhD in High Performance Computing from the University of Kentucky.



Tomi Heimonen, PhD | UW–Stevens Point 

Tomi Heimonen, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Computing and New Media Technologies at UW–Stevens Point.

In his dissertation research, Dr. Heimonen developed and studied tools that support mobile information access with innovative user interface solutions, including search query visualization and result clustering. He has worked on various projects with CSCW and visualization emphasis, developing new ways to support collaborative processes in work groups and knowledge work with information visualization and novel interaction techniques. His current research is focused on multimodal and ubiquitous interfaces for collaboration, communication and information access in various contexts, from technologically augmented learning environments to process control rooms in automation industry.

Dr. Heimonen received his MSc in Computer Science from the University of Tampere, with a focus on Human-Computer Interaction, followed by a PhD in Interactive Technology on which he was advised by Professor Kari-Jouko Räihä.

Chad R. Johnson, MS | UW-Stevens Point 

Chad R. Johnson, MS, is an assistant professor and information security consultant for UW–Stevens Point.

Mr. Johnson teaches courses in cybersecurity. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology where he teaches courses in criminology. He is the author of several works on computer criminology, user/machine profiling, conducting digital investigations, and digital forensics.

Mr. Johnson received an MS in Criminology from UW–Platteville, and a BA in Political Science and Social Science from UW–Stevens Point.

Michael Patton, MBA | UW–Oshkosh

Michael Patton, MBA, is a lecturer in the Information Systems Department within the College of Business at UW–Oshkosh.

Mr. Patton has held leadership positions in Information Systems for organizations of varied size and industry for over 20 years.

Mr. Patton earned his MBA and MSIS from UW–Oshkosh and his BA in Political Science from the University of Iowa.

David Penniston, PhD | UW–Oshkosh

David Penniston, PhD, is a professor in the Mathematics Department at UW–Oshkosh.

Dr. Penniston’s research interests are number theory and arithmetic geometry. His areas of study include modular forms, elliptic curves, partitions, degeneration of curves and jacobians and K3 surfaces.

Dr. Penniston received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Georgia, an MS in Physics from the University of Michigan, and a BS in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin.

George Thomas, PhD | UW–Oshkosh 

George Thomas, PhD, is an associate professor and department chair at UW–Oshkosh.

Dr. Thomas’ research interests are artificial intelligence, with focus on coordination, task allocation and marketbased mechanisms in multiagent systems; machine learning and natural language processing; and computer science education.

Dr. Thomas received his PhD and MS in Computer Science from the University of Iowa, and his B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Kerala, Trivandrum, India.

Praneet Tiwari, MS | UW–Green Bay 

Praneet Tiwari is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Austin E. Cofrin School of Business at UW–Green Bay.

Mr. Tiwari is a seasoned IT professional with more than a decade of industry experience. He is the owner of PraVal, Inc., a technology consulting company. He has extensive experience in information systems across various industries including healthcare, mortgage, finance, hospitality, and higher education. Having worked as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for ARxChange, he has collaborated with companies like Deloitte and Navigant Consulting to gain tremendous insight on multiple facets of data such as how to deal with its sheer volume and security aspects. In his position as the Senior Software Engineer / Software Architect for Caliber Home Loans Inc., he helped design and implement the core API framework to serve multiple channels pertaining to their loan origination and servicing business. This framework implemented strong authentication and authorization protocols at various levels.

Mr. Tiwari has worked in the field of computer science for more than 20 years in a variety of roles and understands the need for data security and privacy and is well-versed with implementing the best cybersecurity practices both at the traditional, and cloud infrastructure levels. His current research interests are in cybersecurity, data science, cloud computing, machine learning and software architecture.

Mr. Tiwari has a Master of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in Data Analysis and Management from the University of North Texas, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a specialization in Database Information Systems from India.

Jon Totushek, PhD | UW-Superior 

Jon Totushek, PhD, is an assistant professor at UW–Superior.

Dr. Totushek’s research is in Homological Algebra.

He earned a PhD from North Dakota State University.


Shin-Ping Tucker, PhD | UW–Superior 

Shin-Ping Tucker, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Math and Computer Science at UW–Superior.

Dr. Tucker has taught web design and development, database management systems, information security, data communications, operation systems, business computer applications, computer literacy, visual basic for applications, Java, C\C++, JavaScript, and business Statistics. Dr. Tucker has published several papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and conference proceedings including standard user interface in e-commerce sites, assessing the quality of the online experience, an e-commerce success model, cybercrimes, cyberwarfare, and cyberterrorism, course management systems (CMS), and Automated Product Matching (APM). Research interests include e-commerce design and analysis, global information technology, web-based technology, internet security, mobile computing, and course management systems.

Dr. Tucker earned a PhD in Interdisciplinary Information Science from the University of North Texas.

M. Afzal Upal, PhD | UW–Platteville

Afzal Upal, PhD, is a professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at UW–Platteville.

Dr. Upal’s research interests lie in the areas of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive science. He enjoys teaching artificial intelligence, machine learning, and computer programming courses.

Dr. Upal earned his PhD from the University of Alberta and his BS and MS degrees from the University of Saskatchewan.

Tony Varghese, PhD | UW–River Falls

Tony Varghese, PhD is a professor in the Department of Computer, Information, and Data Science at UW–River Falls.

D. Varghese has taught security courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels since 2015. He is the Academic Director on the River Falls campus for the cybersecurity program and developed 3 courses for this program: CYB 740, 755, and 765. He started teaching CYB 755 in Fall 2022.

He earned a PhD from the University of Minnesota.

Joshua Yue, PhD | UW–Platteville 

Joshua Yue, PhD, is an associate professor of computer science and software engineering at UW–Platteville.

Dr. Yue’s research interests are software engineering with a special focus on program transformation systems and domain-specific languages (DSLs). He also has interests in high performance computing (HPC) and network security. His research is focused on program transformation techniques applied to languages widely used in HPC. The goal is to address a number of challenges in developing and maintaining HPC. He has several years of software development experience in the industry and worked as an assistant professor at the University of Central Missouri prior to joining UW–Platteville.

Dr. Yue earned his PhD and MS in Computer Science from the University of Alabama.

Mike Zorn, PhD | UW–Green Bay 

Mike Zorn, PhD, is an associate dean and professor at UW–Green Bay in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology.

Dr. Zorn’s research interests relate to the development of chemical sensors and the use of sensors for environmental monitoring. Among other things, he is currently working on developing environmental sensor systems that use LoRaWAN communication strategies.

Dr. Zorn earned a PhD in Environmental Chemistry and Technology at UW–Madison, and a BS in Chemistry from UW–Green Bay.

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