Feb. 26, 2021

UCalgary Political Science Congratulates: Kateryna Soldatenkova!

On winning the 2019–20 Award for Best Graduate Paper Prize.

Best Graduate Paper is awarded for the best paper written for a graduate course in the Department of Political Science, open to both masters and doctoral students in any area of Political Science.

Kateryna Soldatenkova’s paper was written for POLI 685 Strategic Studies and nominated by Dr. Rob Huebert.


Dr. Rob Huebert, tell us a bit about the course for which Kateryna’s paper was written. What made their paper stand out?

Ms. Soldatenkova has taken other courses from me, so I already knew that she was an outstanding student. She has also established herself as the type of student who thrived on addressing the hard questions. It was clear to me when she submitted her paper proposal regarding her study of international efforts to regulate cyber-warfare was going to be good. The actual paper, however, exceeded all expectations. Her research was excellent and the logic that she applied was superb. This is not a topic that has yet been given the attention that it deserves. Yet she was ultimately able to provide a paper that answered her core question with sophistication. It is a very deserving winner of this competition.  

Kateryna Soldatenkova, what was the title of the paper and can you give us a brief description of its main findings or arguments?

My research question was, “Why there is no established international agreement regulating cyber warfare.” In essence, I tried to analyze why, despite a widely acknowledged growth in several offensive cyber operations worldwide, there is no framework that would limit these activities or protect civilian lives and critical infrastructure. My research identified that currently, several substantial difficulties prevent the creation of regulatory measures: the classified nature of the field, where access to cyber activities is scarce and restricted; the largely accepted view of cyber activities as a more humane form of warfare, where lives of combatants and civilians can be protected; and finally, the idea that it is usually hard to correctly attribute an attack to one particular actor that could be held accountable for the harm inflicted. All mentioned obstacles, taken together with a lack of enthusiasm to regulate this domain from key power players, suggest that this field will largely remain unregulated.


Any tips on writing an excellent paper?

My main advice would be to do your research on the area that you feel most passionate about. It takes a lot of time to produce a good paper, but as long as you genuinely love what you are doing, you can spend hours researching the most relevant information that will contribute to your success. The second indispensable part is to have a professor who will guide you and challenge your ideas, making you think outside the traditional boundaries of your knowledge. I am really grateful that I had the opportunity to do my research with the help of Dr. Robert Huebert.

What are your plans for the future?

I am currently doing my final semester as a Master’s student at the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies. After my degree, I would like to pursue my interest in analyzing cyber warfare activities and understanding challenges that will arise with the use of autonomous weapons, either in academia or professional field.

Congratulations to Kateryna Soldatenkova on your 2019–20 Award for Best Graduate Paper!


Find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners.