Cyber Initiative
Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development


The Auburn University Cyber Initiative is one of several strategic interdisciplinary research initiatives identified by the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University. It is under the leadership of Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess (U.S. Army, ret.) with support from Dr. Rodney Robertson and Dr. Anthony Skjellum and includes affiliated faculty from a range of disciplines.

  • Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess
  • Dr. Rodney Robertson
  • Dr. Anthony (Tony) Skjellum

Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess (U.S. Army, ret.)

Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs

Lieutenant General (Ret.) Ronald L. Burgess, Jr., was commissioned in Military Intelligence through the Auburn University ROTC Program in 1974. He earned a Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Southern California in 1980, and a Master of Military Arts and Science from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1986.

His military education includes the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Military Intelligence Officers Advanced Course, the Command and General Staff College, the Advanced Military Studies Program, and the Air War College.

Lieutenant General Burgess held a variety of key staff and command positions throughout his 38 year military career. General officer assignments include Director of Intelligence, J2, U.S. Southern Command; Director of Intelligence, J2, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Customer Outcomes transitioning to Director of the Intelligence Staff in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He was dual-hatted twice as the Acting Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence. His final military assignment was as the 17th Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

He joined Auburn University on December 1, 2012, as Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs. In this capacity he works across the university to interface and coordinate with federal, state and commercial entities on all matters related to these areas.

His personal awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (Two Oak Leaf Clusters), Defense Superior Service Medal (Two Oak Leaf Clusters), Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (Four Oak Leaf Clusters,) Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, NATO Medal—former Republic of Yugoslavia, Parachutist Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and Army Staff Identification Badge. Read More

Dr. Rodney Robertson

Executive Director, Huntsville Research Center

Rodney L. Robertson, Ph.D., joined Auburn University as the Executive Director of the Auburn University Huntsville Research Center (AUHRC) on July 1, 2010. As the Executive Director, Dr. Robertson is responsible for providing the leadership and management to grow Auburn University's research portfolio in the Huntsville area or where Huntsville may be a gateway to other national agency programs. The AUHRC mission will be accomplished by leveraging the research capabilities of the Auburn University faculty, staff, students, and facilities to meet the research needs and opportunities in the Tennessee Valley Region within the defense, aerospace, and health science sectors.

The AUHRC has made progress in growing Auburn University's research portfolio as well as securing funding for faculty and students in the areas of cyber, robotics and unmanned systems, aerospace engineering, advanced composites and materials, and advanced manufacturing. The AUHRC presence in Huntsville has also resulted in increased donations and gifts to Auburn University such as the Raven unmanned aircraft system. By leveraging local contacts within industry and government, the center has successfully established multiple contracting vehicles for Auburn researchers. Those key strategic partnerships and relationships which the AUHRC has created with industry, government, and academia in the high tech Huntsville area will ensure that Auburn has a role in future research opportunities. Auburn University faculty and staff regularly travel to Huntsville to participate in numerous meetings, seminars, and other events coordinated by the AUHRC. These events have opened an avenue for the Auburn leadership and faculty researchers to interface with Huntsville industry and government officials to market Auburn University research capabilities.

The AUHRC continually strives to make it easy for government and industry to conduct business with Auburn University and to make it easy for faculty and staff to get involved in work on Huntsville based government and industry contract opportunities. A variety of contracting opportunities are in the pipeline that will enable the AUHRC to be successful in securing external research funds from government and industry organizations in the Huntsville area. In order to support and sustain these opportunities, the AUHRC is developing and executing a human resource plan that grows the number of dedicated research technical and business staff at Auburn University.

Dr. Robertson earned a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University, a Master's Degree in Engineering and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is a board member of the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association (past-president), the National Defense Industrial Association and National Space Club. He currently serves as President of the Cyber Huntsville Initiative. Read More

Dr. Anthony (Tony) Skjellum

Director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center; COLSA Professor of Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

Dr. Skjellum is the lead cyber scientist for Auburn University. He is the Director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center; COLSA Professor of Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. His research activity focuses on: cyber, applications of high performance computing to intrusion detection, message passing systems, embedded high performance computing, scientific computing and parallel computing, and exascale storage systems. Read More