Australian Fellowship allows Polytechnic faculty to innovate practices against online grooming

Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar presenting at Purdue's 2018 "Dawn or Doom?" event. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

The University of Adelaide in southern Australia recently named seven scholars who comprise its first-ever class of international fellows. Fellows include faculty from Oxford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as from Purdue Polytechnic. This is due to the achievement of an associate professor in the Department of Computer and Information Technology, Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar.

The inaugural recipients of Adelaide’s International Fellowship will be given the opportunity to work with faculty partners based at the university for a period of four to eight weeks. The Fellows will undertake projects that advance the state of current research at Adelaide, by adding their own behavioral and technical expertise to the university’s resources.

Advancing criminological methods

In Seigfried-Spellar’s case, her work will advance the University of Adelaide’s current methods designed to identify and potentially catch online child predators. Through the creation of an international partnership in this field, there is a wider goal of bringing together different technologies and approaches to create more effective and efficient investigative strategies to identify such criminals.

Seigfried-Spellar is considered an expert in online child sexual exploitation, with prior international collaborations through the Fulbright scholar program and Google with Spain’s University of Valencia. This is on top of a very recent workshop which she co-founded and organized at Adelaide late last year.

“Performing these kinds of cross-cultural analyses, where you’re working directly with that country’s law enforcement data, is what helps their particular legal system perform their investigations effectively,” Seigfried-Spellar said.

Finding partners in Adelaide

“I met my current research partners from Adelaide during my Fulbright appointment in Spain, actually. I was presenting some of the work conducted at Valencia during the Eurocrim 2022 conference, when I met a presenter from Adelaide who was working on a different set of investigative tools for identifying offenders that integrated really well with the work I was doing.”

Eurocrim, or the European Society of Criminology, was founded in Lausanne, Switzerland and has served as an international research community of active working groups for over two decades. The working groups are sorted into areas of specialization—one of which is cybercrime. In addition to a presentation from Seigfried-Spellar and her Valencia research partner Virginia Soldino (a professor of criminology), the 2023 Eurocrim conference in Florence, Italy featured work from hundreds of members over four days.

Discover more information about the University of Adelaide’s International Fellowship here. Below, readers can find additional recent news related to Seigfried-Spellar’s work in Spain and at Purdue.

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