Lanier Watkins



Research Interests

  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Network Security
  • Internet of Things Security

Lanier Watkins, chair of the Johns Hopkins Engineering for Professionals Master’s in Computer Science and Cybersecurity programs, develops innovative algorithms and frameworks to address the continuously changing needs of defending critical infrastructure networks and systems.

His research efforts are concentrated in five areas: 1) network security, namely introducing new covert channels, cloud paradigms, and network-based detectors to produce both offensive and defensive capabilities; 2) Internet of Things security, with a focus on mobile, cyber-physical, and wireless sensor/medical device security; 3) vulnerability monitoring and analysis, introducing new risk management and security assessment frameworks for IoT devices; 4) malware monitoring and analysis, exploring active malware defenses to contribute to the increasingly popular “hacking back” paradigm; and 5) data analytics and measured artificial intelligence, investigating the use of autonomous decision-making and methods of AI assurance and security to help data scientists and engineers defend critical infrastructure against traditional threats and the inevitable threat of adversarial AI.

In addition to advising, lecturing, and mentoring for and chairing the EP Computer Science and Cybersecurity Master’s programs, Watkins is principal staff and a section supervisor in the Critical Infrastructure Protection Group within the Asymmetric Operations Sector of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He also holds a secondary appointment as an associate research professor with the JHU Information Security Institute. Prior to joining APL, Watkins worked for more than ten years in industry, first at the Ford Motor Company and later at AT&T.

Among his awards are Black Engineer of the Year’s Modern-Day Technology Leader Award 2015 and APL’s Lawrence R. Hafstad Fellowship 2016–present. A senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and member of the Association for Computing Machinery, Watkins has published more than 30 conference papers, journals, and book chapters, and holds several patents and provisional patents for Android mobile device monitoring systems and drone counter-defenses.

He received his BS and MS in physics and MS in computer science from Clark Atlanta University, his MS in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and his PhD in computer science from Georgia State University.

JHU Information Security Institute