Throughout his career, Lanier Watkins has demonstrated a passion for learning. Before earning his Ph.D. in computer science from Georgia State in 2010, Lanier received a B.S. degree in physics as well as two M.S. degrees in computer science and physics from Clark Atlanta University. More recently, he earned an additional M.S. degree in biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University.
After graduating from Clark Atlanta, Lanier began his career in industry. He worked for the Ford Motor Company and later AT&T in roles such as systems engineer, network engineer, product development manager, and product manager. It was during his employment at AT&T that Lanier attended Georgia State, where he developed a strong relationship with his advisor, Raheem Beyah. Dr. Beyah helped him write and publish research papers as well as teaching him how to “quickly extract useable knowledge out of IEEE/ACM research papers,” Lanier recalls. “I have used [this] approach to literally teach myself other topics.” Dr. Beyah is currently Dean of the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech.
Lanier is now on the other side of the advising desk, having mentored nearly 50 master’s students doing research in cybersecurity and currently advising three Ph.D. students. He holds several appointments at Johns Hopkins University, including program chair for the JHU Engineering for Professionals computer science and cybersecurity M.S. degrees, section supervisor and senior cybersecurity research scientist at the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, associate research scientist at the JHU Information Security Institute, and member of the research faculty at the JHU Institute for Assured Autonomy. Lanier also has an appointment at Morgan State University, where he is a visiting associate research professor.
When he is not working, Lanier enjoys biking, playing chess, and traveling with his wife of 21 years, Shari, and his three children: Kali (17), Kamille (16), and Lanier (9).
Story by Ashlie Swanson