Welcome to Faces of NPS

On behalf of the NPS Foundation team we are pleased to offer the e-newsletter, Faces of NPS, that focuses on the people of the Naval Postgraduate School. Once a month we will shine a light on students, faculty, staff, and others affiliated with NPS in order to share with you some of the important work, personal stories, and other interesting information about the individuals that bring our nation’s premier military graduate university to life.

As no other U.S. research university is as focused on protecting our national security interests at home and abroad, we hope you enjoy and appreciate getting to know these important members of the Department of Defense and other governmental agencies. Many of these men and women are destined for significant leadership roles in the coming years as they follow in the footsteps of the many distinguished graduates of NPS.

As always, we thank you for your continued support of the NPS Foundation and NPS as we work in partnership to ensure these talented and devoted students, faculty, and staff have the resources to take on some of our nation’s most difficult security challenges.


The Big Idea Exchange (BIX)

The Naval Postgraduate School will host the Big Idea Exchange (BIX) beginning on May 27th and continuing on June 3rd. Students from NPS, the Naval War College, and the Krulak Center at Marine Corps University will present their research in a "TED Talk" format. The BIX highlights the critical thinking and creativity of NPS students and their counterparts in Naval education. The presentations will be available on both days via an MS Teams live broadcast.

Preview the event on YouTube.


Admiral Mike Mullen - Leadership in the Age of COVID-19

On May 19, 2020, NPS hosted its first-ever Virtual SGL. The Secretary of the Navy Guest Lecture series brings distinguished individuals from a variety of fields to speak to the NPS community. As students are unable to gather in large groups, NPS hosted retired Admiral Michael Mullen for an online talk. As NPS President Ann Rondeau says, "Admiral Mullen’s talk offers poignant insights for today’s leaders (DOD, civic and industry) who are battling extraordinary circumstances with COVID-19, as well as timeless insights for us all from a great military leader as we head into Memorial Day." We are pleased to share the NPS press release following the event and the link to view the video. https://nps.edu/-/former-cno-mullen-talks-leadership-national-security-challenges-in-a-post-covid-19-world

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Major Ryan Tice

Major Ryan Tice is a U.S. Marine student in the National Security Affairs Department. He will graduate this quarter with a Master of Arts in Security Studies with a focus on Europe and Eurasia. Major Tice has served for 13 years and came to NPS having deployed twice to Iraq and twice with the Marine Expeditionary Force. He said he has been lucky during his career to have know several NPS alumni, and he knew he wanted to pursue a master's degree as part of his career plan. With a focus on Russia and it's actions in several nations, Major Tice's research focused on how a nation can build goodwill in supporting outside regimes. Looking at current events, his research is directly relevant to the Great Power Competition.

Though his research kept him focused primarily in one department, he learned through conversations with other students, including an Ensign he has mentored, how interconnected some of the projects at NPS are. This led him to spearhead the development of Athena, a collaborative research tool that provides students a portal where they can see past, current, and potential future research all organized into communities of interest. This project will help connect students with common research goals and with the real needs of the Department of Defense. It has been briefed to multiple General/Flag Officers and NPS students, staff, and faculty with unanimous appreciation for the idea and the implementation.

While at NPS, Major Tice connected with the Monterey community as a volunteer lacrosse coach at Stevenson School and by becoming a member of the NPS Alumni Association & Foundation. He says the relationships formed at NPS are the best part of his time here, citing the foundation as the place to find those relationships. In speaking on behalf of the foundation at New Student Orientation, Major Tice encouraged incoming to students to use the foundation as a way to break out of their focused study time and to connect with their fellow students. The relationships formed while at NPS will carry beyond the time spent here. In his case, Major Tice intends to continue those relationships at his next assignment. He will be teaching at the U. S. Naval Academy in the Political Science department. This will keep him connected to the growing Naval education community. He also hopes to continue mentoring younger officers and encourage them on a lifelong path of education.


Lt. Col Joe Novak, USAF

Lt. Col. Joe Novak is a student in the Operations Research Department specializing in Human Systems Integration (HSI). Lt. Col. Novak began his military career with a sense of service and duty, thanks to his father who left communist Czechoslovakia and served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam years. Joe joined Air Force ROTC and became an F-15C pilot. He then attended medical school and became an emergency medicine physician. He flew Critical Care Air Transport missions between Afghanistan, Germany and the United States transporting critically wounded service members in what he describes as "the most important thing" he's ever done. Lt. Col. Novak came to the Naval Postgraduate School following a five year assignment as the flight doctor (and only) at a 12-nation international unit operating C-17s out of rural Hungary.

Lt. Col. Novak came to NPS for the Human Systems Integration program that he calls, "the best… and truly, the only one of its kind in the world." He is currently in his third quarter and hopes to focus his thesis on continuing the pioneering work of NPS MOVES PhD. student Lt. Col. Matt Taranto. That research looks at quantifying human behavior requirements for engineers to better develop systems using Dr. Taranto's Model-Based Human Systems Integration (MBHSI) construct- the first such development of its kind.

HSI is by nature interdisciplinary, so Lt. Col. Novak's studies allow him to interact with several departments, and it has been the variety of people and expertise at NPS that he has found most impactful. This has led to a side project to bring those exemplars of excellence to the greater community. Lt. Col. Novak is developing a podcast that will showcase members of the NPS community and dive deep to figure out what makes them tick, what challenges they’ve overcome, and what lessons they can teach all of us.

The palpable sense of mission at NPS has stood out to Lt. Col. Novak in his short time here. He has seen that students and faculty have an understanding that they are part of something larger than the academic environment. Both realize the importance of the work done at NPS to national security and frontline operators. Lt. Col. Novak hopes his future assignments will utilize the analytic skills and practical experience he has honed throughout his career while best fulfilling the needs of the Air Force.


Dr. Ralucca Gera

Dr. Ralucca Gera is a Professor of Mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School as well as the Associate Provost for Graduate Education. She has taught at NPS since 2005 and recently began her final year of the three-year post in the Provost's office. Dr. Gera came to NPS directly after completing her PhD at Western Michigan University. She cites both the opportunity to teach at the graduate level and to teach military students as reasons for choosing NPS. She has taught a wide range of mathematics courses in her 15 years at NPS and currently teaches the final courses student in the department take while completing their degrees.

Dr. Gera has also served as advisor, co-advisor, or reader to number thesis and PhD candidates as well as on PhD Dissertation Committees. She has taught students from many departments, including Operations Research and Computer Science and advised on many projects that span more than one department. Finally, Dr. Gera is leading the Flexible Learning Experiences (FLEx) initiative as the output of the Classrooms of the Future project. These active learning spaces were developed with input from instructors to provide adaptable learning environments that meet the needs for collaborative and student-centered learning based on skills and experiences.


CAPT Scott Bischoff, USN (Ret.)

Scott Bischoff is the Chief Information Officer and Director for the Naval Postgraduate School's Office of Information Technology and Communication Services (ITACS). Capt. Bischoff came to NPS for his last assignment in a 29-year Navy career and joined ITACS in 2017. Much of his career was spent flying H-60 Seahawks in San Diego, so he was happy to return to the west coast from Washington, D.C.

Overseeing a staff of about 75 government and contractor employees, his days are spent monitoring the systems needed to support academic activity and to protect the NPS network from significant malicious activity. With the onset of COVID-19, ITACS has transitioned from a few teleworkers to almost the entire department telecommuting. The IT needs of the school have expanded to include a much higher demand for online course delivery tools like Zoom and Teams and cloud storage tools. Ensuring network security remains a top priority.

Captain Bischoff describes NPS as a great place with world class faculty and cites the student/faculty interaction as what sets it apart. "Motivated students bring recent fleet experience" to classrooms that are "led by faculty dedicated to service" make for a "great mix."