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Community Awards in Support of Diversity and Inclusion Announced for 2018 Internet2 Technology Exchange

Posted on Oct 17, 2018 by Sara Aly
Tags: 2018 Technology Exchange, Frontpage News, Inclusivity Initiative Award, Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative

Four major scholarships in support of diversity and inclusion ensure the participation of five underrepresented IT professionals at technical meeting for research and education community

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 17, 2018 – Internet2 announced today five recipients of scholarships aimed at increasing the meaningful participation of underrepresented information technology professionals, from both the national and global research and education communities, during its annual technical meeting, the Internet2 Technology Exchange, taking place this week in Orlando.

This year’s scholarship recipients are:

  • Renuka Arya, researcher in networking, Center for Data Intensive Science at the University of Chicago.
  • Tomomi Imamura, team lead for the security testing and cyber defense team, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Antonio Lobo, chief information security officer, University of Santander in Bucaramanga, Colombia.
  • Iris R. Niestas, assistant vice president and director for system integration, The University of Texas at El Paso.
  • Soledad Antelada Toledano, cybersecurity engineer, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Arya, Imamura, Lobo, Niestas, and Toledano will be recognized during today’s Exchange keynote presentation at 4 p.m. ET.

The four scholarships being presented are the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award, Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award in Recognition of Carrie Regenstein, Network Startup Resource Center-Internet2 Fellowship, and Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS). 

Scholarships cover travel expenses, hotel accommodation, and conference registration for the 2018 Internet2 Technology Exchange. Funding for this year’s scholarships is made possible by Fortinet, Internet2Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC), Wasabi, and Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS).

“There is a shared passion and commitment across the research and education community in supporting underrepresented groups in the information technology field and removing financial barriers to ensure their access to opportunities of professional development and mentorship,” said Ana Hunsinger, vice president of community engagement at Internet2. “We continue to see a growing number of talented award nominees each year and this year is no exception. I’m grateful for the work that the Network Startup Resource Center does in contributing to a sustainable community of network engineers and local operators across the world, as well as the contributions of the WINS program in addressing the prevalent gender gap in the fields of network engineering and high-performance computing.”

“The NSRC first met Antonio Lobo as a student in 2012. His enthusiasm and dedication to helping others was immediately apparent. Working with Antonio to enhance technical expertise within the research and education community throughout Latin America and the Caribbean has been incredibly rewarding,” said Hervey Allen, assistant director of the Network Startup Resource Center. “His unparalleled dedication and enthusiasm for training and imparting his knowledge of security, systems, and network monitoring and management makes Antonio a very deserving recipient of this fellowship.”

"While one of the major objectives of the WINS program is to provide hands-on technical training for our participants via SCinet, growing our participants' professional network is an equally important goal,” said Wendy Huntoon, president and CEO of KINBER and co-PI on the NSF-funded WINS program. “Our work with Internet2 in supporting the WINS participants at their meetings, as part of the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative, provides opportunities to gain critical presentation and networking skills that may not be available otherwise.”

The event is co-hosted by the University of Central Florida and Florida LambdaRail. A full list of the scholarship winners, along with their bios, appears below:

Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award recipient:

Iris R. Niestas is the assistant vice president and director for system integration at The University of Texas at El Paso. She is responsible for oversight of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system utilized by the university. She coordinates with departments across campus to integrate large-scale systems where integration leads to increased efficiency, in support of teaching and learning.  In her role, she frequently collaborates with six University of Texas System institutions to define and prioritize ERP system enhancements. Iris has 16 years of IT experience both in the private and public sector with expertise in database administration and system design. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in computer information systems and business management, as well as a Master of Business Administration degree.  

Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award in Recognition of Carrie Regenstein recipient:

Tomomi Imamura is a results-driven and customer-focused cybersecurity professional. She is the team lead for the security testing and cyber defense team in the Office of Cybersecurity at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her role focuses on the implementation of frameworks and processes that proactively identify, assess and manage vulnerabilities throughout the systems development life cycle. She also guides systems administration and engineering staff in implementing an appropriate set of IT risk mitigation controls. She came to the U.S. from Japan when she was in her 20s to study computer information systems at a college in Madison, WI. After graduation, she proceeded to work as a developer at an insurance company in Madison. As her job duties shifted, she took on a developer and system administrator role supporting a single sign-on system under the IT security department. This experience motivated to learn about information security. She has continued to pursue her security career at UW-Madison since 2009. Tomomi is a certified information system security professional (CISSP) and GIAC web application penetration tester (GWAPT). She completed the Big Ten Academic Alliance Information Technology Leaders Program (ITLP) in 2015. She became a certified network penetration tester (GPEN) in May 2018.

Network Startup Resource Center-Internet2 Fellowship recipient:

Antonio Lobo is an electrical engineer and the chief information security officer at the University of Santander in Bucaramanga, Colombia. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from the University of the Andes in Merida, Venezuela, and has a solid technical background in building and troubleshooting computer networks and experience working with UNIX. Antonio has been working as a network administrator in charge of production networks and services at several universities in Colombia and Venezuela. Starting in 2005 Antonio has participated as an instructor in the Latin American School of Networks in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Antonio worked with the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) group as a volunteer instructor for several years, and then joined the distributed international team of NSRC contractors in 2016 as a network engineer and trainer. He continues to work with the NSRC across Latin America and the Caribbean to help teach others about network design, security, operations, and management of Internet infrastructure.

Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program recognitions:

Renuka Arya is a researcher in networking with the Center for Data Intensive Science (CDIS) at the University of Chicago. She is a specialist in the design and architecture of high-performance research networks that provide large scientific data sets for the research community around the world. She has designed several cloud-based public and private compute and storage network infrastructures at CDIS. Her most notable project is the design and implementation of the network infrastructure for the National Cancer Institute’s Genomic Data Commons (GDC), a $45M government funded research and engineering project. GDC today holds over 6 PB of data, making it the largest repository of uniformly analyzed (harmonized) cancer genomics data in the world. In 2017, over 100,000 research scientists from around the world in cancer genomics and oncology used the GDC. Renuka has expertise in the technologies required for transporting large amounts of scientific data sets over high-performance wide area networks, including international networks. She has also helped to develop techniques required for transporting data sets related to high performance transport protocols. Renuka is also the network lead at CDIS for conducting high speed demos at several major networking conferences including, Supercomputing (since 2013) and GENI Engineering Conference 22 (GEC22). 

Soledad Antelada Toledano is a cybersecurity engineer in the cyber security team at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Department of Energy, and the founder of GirlsCanHack, an organization dedicated to engaging women in cybersecurity. She is the president of the Women Scientists and Engineers Council at Berkeley Lab. Her expertise is in penetration testing, looking for vulnerabilities on more than 10.000 hosts, as well as confirming, prioritizing and helping resolve them. She also performs threat awareness, network traffic analysis, incident response, forensic analysis, resolution of security incidents as well as promoting a strong security culture through technical consulting. Soledad was named one of the top 20 most influential Latinos in technology for 2016 by CNET.

Featured diversity and inclusion sessions at the 2018 Technology Exchange include:

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photos of the scholarship recipients’ recognition during the 2018 Internet2 Technology Exchange will be made available on Wednesday, October 17 after 5:30 p.m. ET. Contact Sara Aly:

About Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative 
The Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative focuses resources, attention, and scholarships to improve gender diversity and inclusion in the community of networking and technical professionals. The Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Steering Committee has created two different awards since 2014, the Inclusivity Initiative Award, to be granted at each major Internet2 community conference—both Global Summit and Technology Exchange—and the Inclusivity Initiative Award in Recognition of Carrie Regenstein, to be presented exclusively at Technology Exchange meetings. These scholarships provide recipients the opportunity to engage in discussions around the latest applied innovations and best-practices for their campuses, as well as access to mentors and a network of women IT and technology professionals. For more information, visit

About The Network Startup Resource Center (
The Network Startup Resource Center, which is based at the University of Oregon, was established in 1992 to provide technical assistance to organizations setting up computer networks in new areas to connect scientists engaged in collaborative research and education. For the past 25 years, the NSRC has helped develop Internet infrastructure and network operations communities in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Latin America/Caribbean, and the Middle East. The NSRC is partially funded by the International Research Network Connections (IRNC) program of the U.S. National Science Foundation and Google, with additional contributions from dozens of public and private organizations.

Since 2000, the Network Startup Resource Center and Internet2 have worked with universities, network service providers, and industry and government agencies in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean to provide support to research and education communities in countries underserved by the current research and education networking infrastructure. For more information, visit

About The Women in IT Networking at SC
The Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) program is a three year program funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF 2016 grant #ACI-1640987) and DOE/ESnet. It was developed as a means for addressing the prevalent gender gap that exists in Information Technology (IT) particularly in the fields of network engineering and high performance computing (HPC). WINS is a joint effort between the Energy Sciences Network, the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research, and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. For more information, visit

About Internet2
Internet2® is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 serves 318 U.S. universities, 60 government agencies, 43 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 100,000 community anchor institutions, over 900 InCommon participants, and 65 leading corporations working with our community, and 70 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries.
Internet2 delivers a diverse portfolio of technology solutions that leverages, integrates, and amplifies the strengths of its members and helps support their educational, research and community service missions. Internet2’s core infrastructure components include the nation’s largest and fastest research and education network that was built to deliver advanced, customized services that are accessed and secured by the community-developed trust and identity framework.
Internet2 offices are located in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Washington, D.C.; and West Hartford, Conn. For more information, visit or follow @Internet2 on Twitter.