Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is highlighting scientific and technical experts in the national security domain who were recently promoted to scientist and engineer Level 5 (S&E 5), one of PNNL’s most senior research roles. These individuals have contributed significantly to groundbreaking scientific advancements, cutting-edge technology, and innovative solutions being developed at PNNL.
Doug Nordwall is an expert in analytical models, network sensing, and network analytics methodologies for cybersecurity. He has led the development of new sensors and automated analysis techniques that have been delivered via several high-profile cybersecurity programs for the energy sector across the U.S. and internationally.
At PNNL, Nordwall is constantly working with big data to identify, categorize, and stop cybersecurity threats that face our nation. “I'm massaging terabytes of data a day. I'm constructing algorithms on that data to go in and find advanced, persistent threats in some ways that are not common in industry,” said Nordwall. “The research that I do relies heavily on data, so my laboratory isn't filled with beakers, it's filled with computers.”
Nordwall initially started on a path toward a career in pharmacy, but became fascinated with the possibilities of computers. After finding a small university to attend, he decided to focus on computer science and became a system administrator. As a system administrator, he learned a wide variety of skills for maintaining the operations of the laboratory network. “From there, I went into security because I was breaking a lot of the security defenses that were common in those days,” said Nordwall.
Reflecting on the need for more cybersecurity people with diverse backgrounds, Nordwall found purpose and impact in mentoring the next generation. “I decided to mentor because I saw people who had the skills necessary to succeed, but were woefully underutilizing them. I wanted to help them use their talents and fully understand the opportunities in front of them. I really enjoy helping others who may not have had the same opportunities I had. I get to watch that person fundamentally improve their life,” said Nordwall.
Along with being promoted to S&E 5, Nordwall commonly interfaces with government and commercial partners overseas to design and implement new cybersecurity techniques that shape the way their analytics are approached.