Captain Markus Gudmundsson
NPS Dean of Students

Captain Markus Gudmundsson came to NPS in 2018 to assume the role of dean of students. In this position, he serves as the commanding officer of the student military element and is responsible for matters related to students’ health, welfare, discipline, academic standing, accountability and travel. He spoke with us about COVID-19's impact on NPS, how he's seen the school grow and change over the years, and also shared highlights and challenges of his own naval career.

What has your experience at NPS been like since you came here in 2018?
My role as dean of students is to support student requirements. I look out for student interests. Much of my time is addressing the specific needs of a few students who are really challenged. You can name any challenge that a human might experience and we’ve got a student who is experiencing that. Students come to us with eight to 15 years of military experience which includes training, deployment, separation from family, etc. They have been active participants in military operations. I tell them at student orientation, ‘This is your opportunity to take a look at your deferred maintenance issues, or the issues that you didn’t have the time to address in your breakneck pace of train/deploy/train/deploy.’ Those issues may be medical issues, family issues, or mental health challenges. I have all of the resources that can address those issues and my main job is making the connection between the need and the resource, and advertise that that’s an important thing to do.

You get a lot of facetime with NPS students. How would you describe the collective student body?
They are the best of the best; the hand-selected from the hand-selected; proven professionals and dedicated patriots. They come here with real fleet challenges and they have a dedication to solve them, and in many cases they do. It’s amazing to see.

How have you seen NPS change and grow since you first started as dean of students?
There has been a tremendous amount of effort in strengthening and expanding our ability to connect with industry and other centers of technological innovation. We are a much more strategically driven organization than we were three years ago. Putting our strategic plan to work has been fascinating to watch. Our ability to work with the NPS Foundation and other non-federal entities has also improved tremendously.

You mentioned partnering with industry. Why do you believe that is important for NPS?
NPS students come here with knowledge and experience with real fleet challenges and a desire to solve them. There is no other graduate institution that only admits professional career military members. This student population does not exist anywhere else in the world. That is a unique opportunity for industry because we have unique technological challenges that we can partner with industry to solve. A student or faculty member with their unique project partnering with industry is the only way we can leverage the industrial strength to see those challenges to a conclusion. The flip side is, industry often comes up with really good ideas but doesn’t understand how to apply them. If there is a more transparent relationship with some industry partners, we may be able to look at a capability in a way different than anybody else and help them apply it. The exchange of ideas and experiences and capitalizing on our unique student population and the industrial strength of our partners is really important.

 
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Lieutenant Keyaira Jackson, Student
US Navy

Lieutenant Keyaira Jackson is the vice president of the Monterey National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) and NPS liaison to the Naval Junior Officer Council. In both roles, she helps create a more inclusive and high-performing Navy through improving relationships between different units, divisions and people groups. And as a master’s student in the Manpower System Analysis program, she says her NPS experience and curriculum directly supports her in those roles.

“NPS has provided me models and theories of human resource management at both strategic and operational levels to improve overall organizational competitiveness,” she says. “I have learned to develop strategies for an internal environment of diversity and inclusion that recognizes the global environment in which it operates.”

Jackson is also carrying forth that work through her master’s thesis, which focuses on retaining underrepresented demographics – specifically African Americans and Hispanics – in the Navy. “I’m looking at how being stationed in different locations plays a big part in retaining those groups,” she says.

Once she completes her thesis and graduates from NPS in March 2021, she anticipates she will continue serving in the Navy as a manpower analyst. This fourth-generation military service member first joined the military to “test [her] limits, build [her] strengths and fulfill [her] potential.”

Jackson has done just that as both a Surface Warfare Officer and now a Human Resource Officer, and had plenty of adventures as well. “Adventure is an everyday experience in the Navy. It allows you to see the world from a perspective few get the chance to experience,” she says. “During my first and only deployment, I was able to see over 20 countries in Europe. I also traveled to the Arctic Circle was able to participate in one of the Navy’s oldest traditions and became a ‘Bluenose.’”

While balancing her military career with family life has been difficult at times, Jackson has found meaning and purpose in each of her titles – naval officer, wife and mother. “It was hard leaving my family, but I found a new one by joining the Navy. I wanted to become part of something bigger. The Navy offered me a chance to make the world a better place. My overall goal is to be the best mother, naval officer and leader to motivate others to step up, speak out and make a change.”

 
 

Major Lucas Burke, Alumnus
Director, Warfighter Support Division at MSTSSA

Major Lucas Burke currently serves as the director of the Warfighter Support Division at the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MSTSSA). “I split my time between analyzing future capabilities the Fleet Marine Force (FMF) is looking at employing to support the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Planning Guidance and his Force Design 2030, and managing the contracting program that provides the FMF support,” he says. In this role, Burke provides dedicated technical support and manages a global team of more than 100 people, including employees from defense contractors.

“We have Booz Allen Hamilton teammates working in two areas right now,” he says. “We have a team looking at how MSTSSA creates, shares and stores data across our three divisions that support engineering, testing and support to the Fleet Marine Force. They’re also helping us with our Advanced Concepts Cell, looking at integrating machine learning algorithms to help automate actions and processes, and help our workforce make decisions faster and more reliably.”

As a 2019 NPS graduate, Burke says not a day goes by that he doesn’t use some part of his computer science curriculum in his current position.

“My technical degree exposed me to the complexity in the secure design, engineering and operation of some of the systems currently employed by marines around the globe. It also gave me awareness in the technical threats that our systems face, risk mitigation and reduction methods, and end-user operations. It also gave me an appreciation for the notion that ‘just because something is technically feasible, does not mean it’s operationally prudent.’ That’s a delicate balancing act that I would otherwise be oblivious to as we look at future capabilities.”

 
 

Dr. Kyle Lin, Faculty
Operations Research Professor

Dr. Kyle Lin has been a professor in the Operations Research Department at NPS for 16 years. In that time, he has worked directly with Department of Defense organizations to address their needs, created mathematical models to aid national security operations, received a national award from the Naval Research Logistics academic journal, and most recently won the annual NPSF Mills Award for his research in helping the Navy optimize drydock scheduling. These accomplishments are in addition to instructing classes each quarter on game theory, warfare modeling and stochastic analysis.

Prior to coming to NPS, Dr. Lin received his PhD in industrial engineering and operations research from UC Berkeley and was an assistant professor at Virginia Tech. “My time at NPS has been a very rewarding experience,” he says. “The students are mature, motivated and hard-working. The operational experiences they bring to NPS provide valuable insights for research projects that we tackle as faculty members. And the Operations Research Department here provides strong support for faculty to pursue research relevant to national security.”

Dr. Lin has utilized that support to complete research that develops mathematical models to glean insights on defense-related operations, such as patrol, surveillance, search, and combat. His most recent research project that won him the prestigious Mills Award resulted in a new algorithm that allows for an optimal maintenance schedule to maximize drydock usage for the Navy.

“It is very exciting to see my work help the Navy improve drydock scheduling and save money and manpower,” he says. “It also shows that the Navy is embracing cutting-edge data analytic techniques and modern computing power. Automating the drydock schedule is only the first step. I believe many analytical tools will be developed in the coming years to shape how the Navy makes decisions in all aspects of Naval operations.”

 
 

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