As a part of his successful two-year research project to strengthen Internet network security, Jonathan Boyd, assistant professor in the C. Eugene Bennett Department of Chemistry at West Virginia University, has been invited to present his first-year research findings at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award program review conference.

Boyd is one of only four recipients from the DARPA Young Faculty Award program invited to present at this year’s review.

Boyd’s research goals are to better understand human cell signaling networks and how those cells respond to toxic threats. The way that a cell can route information in response to a threat can then be applied to routing on the Internet. Just as cells can be harmed by toxins, the Internet can be damaged by a toxic e-mail or a broken firewall. The main goal of his research is to better understand a means to enhance network security and to create smarter and sturdier software.

“Understanding the architecture of cellular information flow will help us design optimized networks that are capable of rapidly identifying and mitigating potential threats,” Boyd said.
His research with human cells will in turn help DARPA understand how different networks, or cells, of the Internet should behave and interact with cyber space “toxins.”

Boyd’s first-year findings show that cell death can be predicted at very early time points after toxic exposures.

He said that for the overall cellular information flow associated with a toxic exposure, death is just the beginning. The dynamic processes of recovery and adaptation may represent much more useful information.

“Without understanding the overall impacts on cells that do survive, there is a large piece of the puzzle we are still researching, but this is a promising first step towards solutions for network security,” he added.

Boyd will present his research Sept. 21-22 in Arlington, Va.

The objective of the DARPA Young Faculty Award program is to identify and engage rising research stars in junior faculty positions at U.S. academic institutions and expose them to Department of Defense needs and DARPA’s program development process. The award program provides funding, mentoring, and industry and DoD contacts to these faculty early in their careers to develop their research ideas in the context of DoD needs.

The long-term goal of the award program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers and mathematicians in key disciplines who will focus a significant portion of their career on DoD and national security issues.



Contact: Rebecca Herod, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
304-293-7405, ext. 5251,

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.