CSC News

January 22, 2024

Williams Named Goodnight Distinguished University Professor

Dr. Laurie Williams has been named as the inaugural Goodnight Distinguished University Professor in Security Sciences at North Carolina State University.


A faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at NC State for two decades, Williams is a leader of the university’s efforts in cybersecurity. She is the co-director of NC State’s Secure Computing Institute, is director of the Secure Software Supply Chain Center located at NC State and backed by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is co-director of the North Carolina Partnership for Cybersecurity Excellence funded by the National Security Agency (NSA). From 2011 to 2023, Williams was the co-director of an NSA-funded Science of Security Lablet based at NC State.


Williams’ foundational research on software processes, security and software engineering education has shaped and continues to shape academic research, industry practice and software engineering worldwide. Of particular note is her pioneering agile software development and pair programming research. She was the first academic researcher to conduct rigorous analysis of agile software development and pair programming. Her studies aided in corporate transitions to agile software development and education transitions to pair programming.


“I’m deeply honored to be named the Goodnight Distinguished University Professor in Security Sciences. I am grateful to the Goodnights for their investment to improve how we teach and to enhance our research in cybersecurity. The endowed professorship the Goodnights have created will enable us to expand our research and education programs in cybersecurity, which will impact students and citizens in the state, nation and beyond.”  


Along with NSF and NSA, Williams’ research has been supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Army Research Office, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Industry support has come from ABB, Cisco, Google, IBM, Merck, Nortel, Runsafe Security and Tekelec (now Oracle), among others. 


Williams is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery and the recipient of an NSF CAREER Award. At NC State, she has been recognized with the Outstanding Teacher Award and was inducted into the Academy of Outstanding Teachers in 2006. She was named a Faculty Scholar in 2014 and has received the Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award and is a member of NC State’s Research Leadership Academy. She has authored or co-authored more than 270 peer-reviewed publications, which have received 22,261 citations, with an h-index of 76 and an i-10 index of 236.


The position was made possible by a gift from NC State alumni Dr. James and Mrs. Ann Goodnight. The Goodnights support more than 350 North Carolina students each year through the Goodnight Scholarships program, which they established in 2008 and expanded in 2017 to include transfer students from the state’s community colleges. The Goodnights also have generously strengthened centers, programs and additional scholarship opportunities across NC State. Their commitment to faculty excellence has resulted in the creation of named faculty positions, including a deanship, as well as a program to invest in early-career faculty and support for additional endowed professorship funds. In 2022, the Goodnights increased their support to include graduate students, creating the Goodnight Doctoral Fellows for Ph.D. candidates in STEM and education.


Dr. Goodnight - the CEO and founder of SAS - earned his B.S. in applied mathematics in 1965, his M.S. and doctorate in statistics in 1968 and 1972, respectively, and the university conferred an honorary degree to him in 2002. Mrs. Goodnight earned her B.A. in political science in 1968 and works as the senior director of community relations at SAS. The Goodnights have received numerous university honors, including the Watauga Medal (Dr. Goodnight, 2002) and the Menscer Cup (2007). Mrs. Goodnight’s leadership roles include serving on the Board of Trustees and as a founding member of Wolfpack Women in Philanthropy at NC State. 



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