Woman creating networking graphic.

Ekdale and Nithyanand Receive $1.7M Cybersecurity Grant


Brian Ekdale, senior faculty affiliate, and Rishab Nithyanand, research fellow, in the Social and Education Policy Program, were awarded $1.7 million by the United States’ Department of Defense’s Minerva Research Initiative, which supports social science research relevant to national security efforts. Ekdale and Nithyanand are examining social media platform vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies to strategic information operations (SIOs) in the United States, Central and Eastern Europe, and East Africa.

Ekdale and Nithyanand’s project aligns with the Minerva Research Institute’s mission to enhance the DoD’s gasp of “social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S.” More specifically, their project utilizes interdisciplinary research methodology in computation, humanities, and social sciences to better understand the “feedback loop” mechanism through which foreign antagonists influence their global social media audiences.

The PPC has been proud to support the work of Ekdale and Nithyanand through our Summer Scholars program in 2020 and through the Iowa Social Science Research Center, which provided data collection for a previous grant and grant submission support to this project and earlier work. Read more about the grant here.