About the Team

The Cyber Operations, Analysis, and Research (COAR) section is a dedicated cybersecurity team within Argonne’s Risk and Infrastructure Science Center.  Our mission encompasses cyber intelligence, cyber physical, and cyber resilience across our three main areas of operations, analysis, and research.

Benjamin Blakely

Benjamin has spent the last four years leading the Information Security program at Workiva, Inc (formerly WebFilings), a company that disrupted the SEC Filing space with a cloud-based collaboration, GRC, and regulatory filing platform used by 65%+ of the Fortune 500 including over 2,600 companies around the world. Prior to this, he spent time with the Department of Defense, Iowa State University’s Internet-Scale Event and Attack Generation Environment (ISEAGE) laboratory, and the Krell Institute in varied roles including technical support, research, system administration, security engineering, and leadership. He is a co-founder of the Ames, Iowa chapter of OWASP and a regular presenter on Information Security topics in the Des Moines area. Benjamin received his Bachelor’s and Doctorate degrees in Computer Engineering with a focus on Information Assurance from Iowa State University. His dissertation was on the topic of cyber warfare, and specifically on network attack attribution using statistical methods adapted from literary analysis. He holds Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) & Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certifications, and is the lead inventor on two patents for encryption key management in cloud-based architectures.

Steven Day

Steven is a Cyber Security Analyst in the Risk and Infrastructure Science Center (RISC). He graduated from Lewis University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and is currently working to obtain a Master’s Degree in Computer Science, also from Lewis University. Prior to joining Argonne, Steven worked in various physical security fields and conducted student/mentor research for Lewis University, while also leading a Cyber Defense Club for the Computer Science Department.

Nate Evans

Nate Evans currently serves as the lead for the COAR section. Nate received his Doctorate in Computer Engineering with a specialty in Cybersecurity from Iowa State University. Prior to joining Argonne, Nate managed cybersecurity and cyber defense activities at several private-sector companies. He is considered a key asset by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in several cybersecurity capabilities including the development of a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment  for field use, analysis of cybersecurity consequence and threat studies, and leading the pilot cyber-physical regional assessment. Nate along with the team have also developed a patent pending operational instance of moving target defense (MTD) and has worked in a variety of other cybersecurity research areas including transportation, satellite communications, social engineering, and offensive cybersecurity.

Jennifer Fowler

Jennifer Fowler holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is currently in process of completing her Master’s Degree in Information Security from Lewis University. During her undergraduate career, she worked in a corn genomics lab, where she and other scientists employed the tools of functional genomics to understand the molecular mechanisms behind a variety of agronomic traits in maize. Jennifer worked on the Illinois long-term selection experiment, where she elucidated the genetic changes in maize populations due to selection. She also worked on Energy Corn, which focused on developing maize as a platform for cellulosic biofuel production.  Jennifer started out at Argonne as an analyst in 2011, assessing vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure. After a few years, she moved into the cyber area, and officially became a member of COAR in early 2016. Jennifer is a member of her school’s cyber defense club, and she enjoys learning and teaching about the applicability of tools and exploits. Her areas of interests include cryptography, data privacy, social engineering, and IoT

Amanda Joyce

Amanda Joyce has worked as a subject matter expert in cybersecurity since 2011. At Argonne National Laboratory, she provides expertise to DHS as an instructor of cybersecurity. She has lead and co-lead two strategic studies on remote access within industrial control systems and cloud technology (respectively) and written or assisted in 6 published articles. She conducts cybersecurity assessments and surveys for DHS with the intent to evaluate the cybersecurity posture of critical infrastructure. She additionally works with budget control and effort allocation. Prior to her work as a Cyber Security Analyst, she has worked as a technical point of contact for cybersecurity within other divisions at Argonne National Laboratory. In May of 2011, she received her triad Bachelors of Science degree in Accounting, Information Security & Risk Management, and Management Information Systems along with a Distinguished Honors diploma. In May 2013, she received her Masters of Science degree in Information Security.

Alec Poczatek

Alec Poczatek is a Cyber Security Analyst with a Master’s Degree in Information Assurance and Computer Engineering from Iowa State University of Science and Technology. Prior to joining Argonne, Alec was employed at various areas within the U.S. government as a project manager and software engineer as well as Workiva, LLC., where he developed online web applications for SEC reporting. During his undergraduate career Alec co-founded a student run hackathon, HackISU. Alec works on various projects within the cyber realm and has a variety of interests from graph theory to social engineering as well as everything in between.

Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is a Cyber Security Analyst. He is the lead developer on a patent pending moving target defense technology. He has lead and contributed to several projects including a variety of research for Argonne and analysis projects for the Department of Homeland Security. He specializes in programming, penetration testing, linux system administration, and datacenter/network operations and analysis. In previous lives, Mike has taught high school and community education classes on technology, sound engineering, and ESL – he was an Operations technician and System Administrator for Google during the early days of their great global datacenter expansion– and he has sold roadside produce all over the upper Midwest. His eclectic experience gives him a unique insight into the problems of computer security and privacy.  Mike studied computer science as part of the SFS program at UIC.

Roland Varriale

Roland Varriale graduated from Manhattan College with a degree in Computer Science and the University of Scranton with a Masters Degree in Software Engineering. Roland has worked in various capacities from a business analyst to an intelligent transportation systems researcher and developer. He is interested in the application of security principles and protocols to VANETs and Intelligent Transportation Systems as well as personal device security on the “Internet of Things.”