(Posted October 26, 2015)

Jerry Kruse, professor of mathematics and computer science and assistant provost
Jerry Kruse, professor of mathematics and computer science and assistant provost

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Technology users who browse the Internet or exchange emails inevitably leave a trail of data. Jerry Kruse, professor of math and computer science and assistant provost at Juniata College, will address data gathering, surveillance and other issues that arise in the college's summer reading selection in a Bookend Seminar at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 28, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

Bookend Seminars are monthly lectures that give Juniata faculty a chance to share their research in an accessible way. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Juniata' summer reading selection was "Little Brother," by Cory Doctorow. The novel grapples with issues of civil rights in a surveillance society through the lens of a tech-savvy teenager.

"There was so much in 'Little Brother' that resonated with the material in some of my courses," explains Kruse, who served as software engineer for Compaq Computer Corporation prior to his appointment at Juniata.

In his Bookend Seminar, Kruse will address free email providers' data collection practices. "Free email providers go through their users' accounts," Kruse explains. "They look at what you've bought and what you've signed up for, and they base their advertising on that information. We're getting our emails scoured, and there's some database recording that information. All of us have kind of let it happen."

"They look at what you've bought and what you've signed up for, and they base their advertising on that information. We're getting our emails scoured, and there's some database recording that information. All of us have kind of let it happen."

Jerry Kruse

In "Little Brother," the secret exchange of information is a necessity. At his discussion, Kruse will unpack some of the ways that this happens in real life.

"If you and I want to send a secret message back and forth, I'd have to encode that message," says Kruse. "If anyone else got it, they wouldn't know what to do. They'd need some kind of 'key' to unlock it." Unless the interceptor of that encrypted message is equipped with NSA-grade technology or has an exact copy of the two keys used by sender and receiver, the message will remain indecipherable.

Kruse joined the Juniata faculty as an assistant professor in 1999. He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Illinois and went on to earn a master's degree and doctorate in applied mathematics from Brown University. He is a member of numerous honor societies including Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Golden Key, and Phi Eta Sigma. He was promoted to associate professor in 2005 and was named full professor in 2011.

In 2011, he also was named a Teagle Teaching and Learning Scholar as part of the Council for Aid to Education's Collegiate Learning Assessment Project. Kruse also won the 2011 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics from the Allegheny Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association of America.

By Tyler Ayres '16

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.