When Lauren Maloney trained in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force, she was impressed by how much information could be conveyed by geospatial intelligence, which uses images and data to analyze activity in specific locations.

“We typically write reports and use a lot of words to convey a message. With GEOINT you can convey it with images, and the message is so much clearer,” said Maloney, who graduated this year with a Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security - Geospatial Intelligence option, offered online by the Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and Penn State World Campus. “I fell in love with the whole idea.”

Maloney was awarded the 2020 Lt. Michael P. Murphy Award in Geospatial Intelligence, which recognizes a student in Penn State’s geospatial intelligence program who has served in the U.S. armed forces or with the geospatial intelligence community and demonstrated “exceptional contributions to the discipline.”

Todd Bacastow, lead faculty for graduate geospatial intelligence programs, called Maloney “the next geospatial intelligence generation. She is team oriented. Her knowledge and mastery of technology seems hard-wired. She is dedicated to self-development. Our future is in good hands,” he said.

Maloney lives in northern Virginia, where she works for BAE Systems as a full motion video analyst. She is an intelligence officer in the Air Force Reserve and served as deputy chief of intelligence at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts before her recent reassignment to the Pentagon. At Westover, she was in charge of preparing air crews for what to expect en route and on the ground at their overseas destinations.

“I am truly honored to receive the award because I am passionate about the field of geospatial intelligence, and I strive to incorporate the new skills I have acquired from this program into every aspect of my work,” Maloney said. “Studying GEOINT at Penn State has given me the tools and experience I need to deliver results in both my civilian and military careers.” 

Maloney, 34, cross-trained in intelligence after leaving active duty in the Air Force and decided she wanted to focus on GEOINT.

“As soon as I started asking around, everyone spoke so highly of Penn State,” she said. 

The program was challenging, and “I learned so much,” Maloney said. “I am able to incorporate GEOINT into every aspect of my work.”
For her capstone project at Penn State, Maloney studied Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic. For a final project in another class, she analyzed vegetation growth patterns in areas affected by wildfires in Glacier National Park.

Maloney said she was honored to receive an award named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Penn State graduate and Navy SEAL who was killed during a reconnaissance mission in Afghanistan in 2005 and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.