Winners Announced for the 2019 Women in Biometrics Awards

women in biometrics

The Security Industry Association and SecureIDNews will honor four female leaders in biometrics and security for their contributions at SIA GovSummit in Washington, D.C.

SILVER SPRING, Md. – Four distinguished leaders in the biometric identity and security industry have been selected as the winners of the 2019 Women in Biometrics Awards, co-founded by the Security Industry Association (SIA) and SecureIDNews and co-presented with sponsors Biometric Update, IDEMIA and SIA’s Women in Security Forum. Winners of this year’s awards program will be recognized at the 2019 SIA GovSummit, held June 26-27 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. 

“Biometric technologies are critical to securing identities in today’s world, and the impressive advancements made by these female biometrics leaders improve processes like air travel and help keep citizens safe,” said SIA CEO Don Erickson. “SIA congratulates the 2019 honorees for their outstanding engagement, leadership, innovation and mentorship in guiding this crucial technology market and looks forward to recognizing this inspiring group at SIA GovSummit.”

Debra Marcopulos, Planning and Assurance Section Chief, Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Debra Marcopulos has more than 20 years of experience in the biometrics and identity management fields, first as a consultant with Bart & Associates, then in federal service with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and now with DHS’ OBIM. In her role as section chief, she provides direction and guidance to a team that is matrixed from across OBIM in support of the development of the Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology, the replacement biometric system for the Automated Biometric Identification System, the largest biometric system in the United States, currently storing over 250 million separate, distinct identities. Ms. Marcopulos rigorously oversees change management, configuration management, testing, intake, Agile processes, the system engineering life cycle, quality assurance and governance for all IT development activities at OBIM. She has received multiple DHS awards for her leadership efforts, including the OBIM Exceptional Service Award, the OBIM Customer Service Teamwork Award, the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate Employee Recognition Award for Teamwork Group and the U.S. Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Innovation Award.

Dana Michalski, Science Team Lead in Biometrics, Defence Science and Technology Group, Government of Australia

Dr. Dana Michalski directly communicates with defense and national security agencies to ensure she and her team conduct applied research and development in biometrics that are leading-edge and operationally relevant and provide impartial advice to government on the implementation and use of biometrics. In addition to her role as program lead for child identification in biometrics, she is a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide, where she supervises students in biometrics-related projects, an appointed member of the Biometrics Institute’s Social Impact Working Group and Academic Research Working Group and an Australian research and development lead for the Five Eyes Digital Forensics to Combat Child Exploitation program. Dr. Michalski leverages government data sets, practitioners and commercial facial recognition algorithms to provide relevant, real-world advice to agencies to help them improve processes; she also manages the development of world-leading technologies for operational purposes within government, and her advice and research findings have been implemented by agencies worldwide.

Nicole Spaun, Senior Principal Face Biometric Expert, IDEMIA National Security Solutions

Dr. Nicole Spaun began working in biometrics in 2003 as a forensic image examiner at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where she developed the FBI’s first facial identification and comparison course and served as the first chair of the Facial Identification Scientific Working Group (FISWG) Training Subcommittee. In 2010, she became the first biometrics program manager for military intelligence for the U.S. Army in Europe, where she promoted forensic and biometric programs and usage in foreign nations throughout Europe. She then served as a systems engineer for MITRE Corporation and as a biometrics expert at MorphoTrak before moving to IDEMIA in 2017. Dr. Spaun provides end user guidance on facial recognition, teaches facial identification and comparison courses, conducts research related to facial biometrics and related forensic practices and assists customers with facial recognition policy development and forensic science mentorship. She participates in the FISWG and serves as an associate of the International Association of Identification’s face subcommittee, developing a certification in facial comparisons.

Sherry Stein, Head of Technology Strategy, SITA Americas

Sherry Stein has over 20 years of experience in travel technology; she joined SITA Lab in 2015, leading the identity management program focused on creating a secure and frictionless travel experience through the applied use of emerging technologies, including biometrics. This program led to the world’s first “one-step” biometric boarding process, with JetBlue and CBP. Noted by Popular Science as one of the 100 Greatest Innovations of 2017, this program was recognized worldwide for its groundbreaking approach to the U.S. Biometric Exit program and has now become the de facto standard for the market. She has helped drive wider adoption of biometric technology in passenger processing, including the first full implementation of the CBP Biometric Entry and Exit program at Orlando International Airport. She is a vocal expert in the development and use of biometrics and is involved in several other trials and customer initiatives around the use of biometrics in travelers’ journeys from check-in to destination.

Each year, the Women in Biometrics Awards recognize the efforts of top female leaders helping drive the biometric identity and security industry. Nominees and past winners include those working for biometric companies, peripheral suppliers, system integrators, academia, government or security and IT departments at a variety of organizations.

SIA GovSummit – the annual government security conference hosted by SIA – brings together government security leaders and private industry technologists for top-quality information sharing and education on security topics affecting federal, state and even local agencies. Attendees will find specialized sessions on topics such as modernizing federal physical access control systems, the U.S. Department of Defense’s unified facilities criteria for security systems, facial recognition technology use for public safety and homeland security missions and helping communities protect religious institutions, crowded spaces and other soft targets.

SIA GovSummit is free for all government employees, including federal, state, county and municipal-level staff (both domestic and international), plus all military, law enforcement and public safety representatives. To learn more and register, visit

This event is made possible thanks to the following sponsors and partners: Premier Sponsors LenelS2, HID Global, Tyco Security Products and Allegion; Event Sponsors AMAG Technology, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, Axis Communications, B&B Roadway Security Solutions, Calpipe Security Bollards, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, dormakaba, Gallagher, Genetec, Gibraltar, GSA Schedules, Inc., Hanwha Techwin America, HySecurity, IDEMIA, Identiv, ISC Security Events, Louroe Electronics, Marshalls, Milestone Systems, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies, NetApp, Panasonic, the Secure Worker Access Consortium and TCP Security Solutions; and Media Partners Campus Safety, CJIS Group, Government CIO Outlook, SecureIDNews, Security Systems News and Security Technology Executive.

Follow SIA GovSummit on social media using the hashtag #SIAGovSummit.

About SIA

SIA ( is the leading trade association for global security solution providers, with nearly 1,000 innovative member companies representing thousands of security leaders and experts who shape the future of the security industry. SIA protects and advances its members’ interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation at the federal and state levels, creating open industry standards that enable integration, advancing industry professionalism through education and training, opening global market opportunities and collaborating with other like-minded organizations. As the premier sponsor of ISC Events expos and conferences, SIA ensures its members have access to top-level buyers and influencers, as well as unparalleled learning and network opportunities. SIA also enhances the position of its members in the security marketplace through SIA GovSummit, which brings together private industry with government decision makers, and Securing New Ground, the security industry’s top executive conference for peer-to-peer networking.

SIA’s Women in Security Forum offers programs, networking and professional growth events and thought leadership opportunities to promote and advance the involvement of women in the security industry. Any employee of a SIA member company – regardless of gender – is eligible to join the forum.

About SecureIDNews

SecureIDNews is an industry-leading source for enterprise and government identity, credentialing and security markets published by AVISIAN. More than 30,000 subscribers and hundreds of thousands of web visitors get their ID technology news from AVISIAN’s suite of identity and security publications.

About Biometric Update is the leading news property that publishes shareable breaking news, analysis and research about the global biometrics market. We provide the world’s leading news coverage and information on the global biometric technology market via the web and an exclusive daily newsletter. Our daily biometrics updates, industry perspectives, interviews, columns and in-depth features explore a broad range of modalities and methods, from fingerprint, voice, iris, and facial recognition to cutting-edge technologies like DNA analysis and gait recognition, related identification tools such as behavioral biometrics, and non-biometric identification methods such as identity document verification and telephone forensics. Our coverage touches on all applications and issues dealt with in the sector, including national security, mobile identity, and border control, with a special emphasis on UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.9 to provide universal digital identification and the ID4Africa movement. Our global audience of 700k+ readers includes governments, law enforcement agencies, financial institutions and many other vertical industries along with OEMs, service providers, system integrators, enterprise and industry professionals.


IDEMIA, the global leader in Augmented Identity, provides trusted technology enabling citizens and consumers alike to perform their daily critical activities (such as pay, connect, travel and vote), in the physical as well as digital space. Securing our identity has become mission critical in the world we live in today. By standing for Augmented Identity, an identity that ensures privacy and trust and guarantees secure, authenticated and verifiable transactions, we reinvent the way we think, produce, use and protect one of our greatest assets – our identity – whether for individuals or for objects, whenever and wherever security matters. We provide Augmented Identity for international clients in the financial, telecom, identity, public security and IoT sectors. With 13,000 employees around the world, IDEMIA serves clients in 180 countries. For more information, visit