Gallagher scholarship recipient keen to help others through cyber security

Computer science student Leo Oliver-Dowling has been tinkering with computers since he was 13 years-old. Now a third-year computer science student, his skills have been rewarded with a postgraduate scholarship worth $20,000.

Leo is the 2021 recipient of the Sir William Gallagher Master of Cyber Security Scholarship, a scholarship set up in 2015 to support academically talented students studying towards a Master of Cyber Security at the University of Waikato.

Sir William Gallagher is a long-standing supporter of the University of Waikato, and Hamilton-based Gallagher is one of the world’s leading technology innovators across multiple industries, including security.

As the 2021 recipient, Leo will receive financial support and industry experience through a research project at Gallagher.

From Raglan and educated at Raglan Area School and Hamilton Boys’ High School, Leo is currently in his final year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in computer science. He says he’s deeply appreciative of the scholarship and looking forward to further exploring cyber security in postgraduate study.

“My main area of interest is cryptovirology, the study of how cryptography is used to design malicious software. Cyber security specialists both respond to attacks as well as actively search for and remediate vulnerabilities in computer systems.”

Leo had originally planned to look for a job at the end of his undergraduate degree, but says he’s stoked to now have the opportunity to keep studying without having to worry about finances.

“My goal is to pursue a career at the forefront of cyber security where I’m continuously learning about technology, and also helping people.

“The Sir William Gallagher scholarship has lightened my financial burden immensely, which will allow me to focus on the most important part of university – learning.”

For over 80 years, Hamilton headquartered Gallagher has had a strong interest in encouraging and supporting people, including up and coming tech talent in the region. CEO and executive director Sir William Gallagher says he is pleased to see the scholarship go to such a worthy candidate.

“Not only is Leo a high-achieving student who we’re pleased to support, he is also deeply interested in learning about the use of complex technology, in this case cryptovirology, to help people and society at large.

“As the world and its technologies become more integrated and complex, and we move towards an increasingly cyber environment, the potential for harm increases. Supporting great students to pursue their studies is one way we can help, so they can go on to make a positive impact in their field.”

Waikato University