Congratulations to Thomas Rid and Elly Rostoum at the Alperovitch Institute, and Rob Heald at JHU’s Applied Physics Lab for winning the prestigious Johns Hopkins University Discovery Awards, for their project to study cyber operations as a geopolitical instrument.

In 2015, the Johns Hopkins University president, provost, and the deans of the University created the Johns Hopkins Discovery Discovery Awards as a funding program for innovative and collaborative research across the University’s schools and divisions. The Awards recognize researchers who are poised to arrive at important discoveries or creative works.

The premise behind the Discovery Awards underscores that, more than ever, the answers to the most challenging questions cannot be accomplished entirely within one academic discipline. The Awards aim to spark new and synergistic interactions between investigators across Johns Hopkins, and lead to works of the highest quality and impact.

This year, 35 Discovery Awards were given to interdisciplinary faculty teams across 12 units of Johns Hopkins. The winning project teams—chosen from 191 proposals – include 115 individuals representing 10 Johns Hopkins entities.  

A full list of 2023 awardees can be found here

Elly Rostoum, Managing Director of the Alperovitch Institute, with Dr. Dennis Wirtz, Vice President of Research at Johns Hopkins University, during the 2023 Discovery Awards Ceremony at the historical Peabody Library.

Co-Principal Investigators Bios

Thomas Rid is Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s SAIS and the Founding Director of the Alperovitch Institute. Rid is the author of the acclaimed Active Measures, a sweeping history of disinformation (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). His previous book, Rise of the Machines, (Norton, 2016), tells the story of how cybernetics, a late-1940s theory of machines, came to incite anarchy and war. His 2015 article “Attributing Cyber Attacks” was designed to explain, guide, and improve the identification of network breaches (Journal of Strategic Studies 2015). In 2013, he published Cyber War Will Not Take Place, now a classic. He’s @ridt on on Mastodon and on Bluesky.

Elly Rostoum
is the Managing Director of the Alperovitch Institute, an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. Elly is a former U.S. intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency, and a National Security Council staffer at the White House. She is a Hans J. Morgenthau Fellow in U.S. Grand Strategy. Elly’s research examines American national security vulnerabilities of foreign direct investment in foundational, critical, and emerging technologies in the AI, finance, biotech, and IoT sectors. She is an expert on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States governance, and specializes regionally on China and the Middle East. Elly speaks 5 languages, and 22 Arabic dialects. She holds degrees from Bates College, Harvard University, and Stanford University. Elly is finishing her PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is @EllyRostoum on X and on Bluesky. More on Elly here.

Rob Heald is Program Manager of the Cyber Futures program in the Cyber Operations Missions Area at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). In this role, he is responsible for leading teams to develop novel analytics and cybersecurity capabilities in support of Department of Defense missions across all phases of conflict.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Heald served as staff member in the Systems Engineering section of the Cyber Warfare Systems Group at JHU/APL. Mr. Heald previously worked at the Aerospace Corporation in technical and managerial roles from 2013-2020. There, he led a team responsible for developing and executing novel techniques for vulnerability assessments, threat hunts, and adversarial assessments on the operational mission networks of civil, DoD and Intelligence Community (IC) space agencies.  Mr. Heald graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland University College. He is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Information Security Engineering from The SANS Technology Institute, and holds certifications in penetration testing, intrusion analysis, and cyber threat intelligence, among others.