Halderman honored for public engagement efforts

The U-M presidential award honors individuals who provide sustained, dedicated, and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.
Portrait of J Alex Halderman Enlarge
Prof. J. Alex Halderman

President Mark Schlissel honored Prof. J. Alex Halderman with one of two presidents awards, which recognize commitment to public engagement and research that significantly impacts society. Director of the Center for Computer Security and Society in the College of Engineering, Halderman will receive the President’s Award for National and State Leadership, which honors individuals who provide sustained, dedicated, and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.

Halderman was honored alongside Prof. Marc Zimmerman, director of the Prevention Research Center and the Michigan Youth Violence Prevention Center in the School of Public Health, who earned the President’s Award for Public Impact.

“Throughout their careers, Professors Halderman and Zimmerman have confronted some of our society’s most pressing challenges,” Schlissel said. “Their work has not only made a difference in tackling the problems themselves, but in finding new and relevant ways to engage the public in finding and understanding possible solutions.”

Halderman, professor of computer science and engineering, focuses his research on computer security and privacy, emphasizing problems that broadly impact society and public policy. He is a noted election security expert and has worked to educate members of Congress about the need for election cybersecurity improvements.

In 2019, Halderman was named an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for his work in strengthening election cybersecurity and evidence-based elections. He also co-chairs Michigan’s Election Security Commission.

“Professor Halderman has been working to understand and secure elections against cyberattacks for more than 10 years,” the nomination statement said. “After the 2016 presidential election, Professor Halderman published an online essay making the case that voter tampering through cyberattacks couldn’t be ruled out without examining physical evidence, and particularly paper ballots. The piece was read by over a million people.”

In 2017, Halderman testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee as a part of the broader Russian hacking investigation. His remarks focused on vulnerabilities in the U.S. voting system and a policy agenda for election cybersecurity improvements.

“I have been working for more than 15 years to try to help the U.S. and other countries better secure their election technology. Over this time, the threats facing elections have gone from seeming like science fiction to becoming the all-too-urgent reality of attacks on election systems that we have seen since 2016,” Halderman said.

“America’s universities have an incredible amount of expertise on some of the most important social challenges facing the nation and the world, but it’s important that experts be more than right,” he said. “We need to be champions for our ideas to make sure that we can rise above the noise and confusion that often dominates public debates.”

Halderman is grateful to receive this recognition.

“It’s an incredible thrill. I am deeply honored,” he said. “I’m grateful to the University of Michigan, the College of Engineering, and my department for the continuous support and this memorable recognition.”

Zimmerman and Halderman will be honored at an award ceremony March 16 at the Ross School of Business.