Software Engineering Research

Laurie Williams

Full bio

Resume (pdf)

Laurie Williams is a Distinguished University Professor in the Computer Science Department of the College of Engineering at North Carolina State University (NCSU). Laurie is a co-director of the NCSU Science of Security Lablet. She is also the Chief Cybersecurity Technologist of the SecureAmerica Institute. Her research focuses on software security; agile software development practices and processes, including continuous deployment; and software reliability, software testing and analysis. Laurie is an NSF CAREER award winner, an ACM Distinguished Scientist, and an IEEE Fellow.

Laurie’s research has emphasized  the importance of having practical relevance in software security and software engineering research and providing research solutions to solve the problems faced in day-to-day software development. She leads the Software Engineering Realsearch research group at NCSU. With her students in the Realsearch group, Laurie has been involved in working collaboratively with high tech industries like ABB Corporation, Cisco, IBM Corporation, Merck, Microsoft, Nortel Networks, Red Hat, Sabre Airline Solutions, SAS, Tekelec, and healthcare IT organizations and on open source software. The Realsearch team works on research activities ranging from security issues in healthcare IT applications to software process to applying failure-prediction and vulnerability-prediction in-process during development to impact programmer productivity and ensure the development of high quality, reliable, and secure applications. Her influence on the development of vulnerability prediction models was recognized in 2020 by an ICST Test of Time award for her 2010 paper with Microsoft. The research collaborations have resulted in significant publications in the primary conferences in her research area maintaining a balance between research and practice in software security and software engineering. Laurie has more than 240 refereed publications.

Laurie is one of the foremost researchers in the security of healthcare IT applications and of agile software development. She was one of the founders of the first XP/Agile conference, XP Universe, in 2001 in Raleigh which has now grown into the Agile 200x annual conference that sells out each year with significantly more than a thousand attendees. Her work on agile has had wide ranging impact on the research community ranging from the collection of empirical evidence on agile software development to the evaluation of specific practices in isolation to gauge their efficacy to be adapted in different contexts. She is also the main author of the book Pair Programming Illuminated and a co-author of Extreme Programming Perspectives both published by Addison-Wesley. In January 2009, her 2000 IEEE Software paper "Stengthening the Case for Pair Programming" was chosen as a IEEE Software 25th Anniversary Top Pick Paper, was on the list of the Most Cited IEEE Software Articles for a 25-year period, and was chosen as the #2 SIGCSE Top Ten Symposium Papers of All Time.

Laurie is strongly committed to software engineering and security education though her mix of teaching, professional and research activities. She redesigned the software engineering course at NCSU to include an innovative laboratory component that enhances communication, coordination skills and provides practical software development team experience to students. She has designed two new graduate level courses on Software Reliability and Testing and on Software Security at NCSU. Her involvement in education research activities has included her role as lead investigator in National Science Foundation grants to improve the retention of women and minorities in Computer Science using various educational practices like agile software development and pair programming.

She is a among a select group of faculty at NCSU to be a member of the Research Leadership Academy and to win the Outstanding Teaching award for her innovative teaching from the University Chancellor and is an inductee in the NC State's Academy of Outstanding Teacher. She was also chosen as "Most Helpful Professor Outside of Class" by the computer science students in 2006. In 2009, she was honored to receive the ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award. She is a multiple IBM University Partnership award winner, an IBM Eclipse Innovation Award winner, a Jazz Innovation Award winner, and an IBM Smarter Planet Healthcare Industry Skills award winner.

Laurie is currently the steering committee chair of the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE). Laurie has served on the program committee of numerous conferences in her primary areas of research. Additionally she was general chair of the Conference on Software Engineering Education and Training (CSEET) 2008, Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement (ESEM) conference in 2009, and the HotSoS conference in 2014 and 2018. She was also Program Chair of the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in 2016, the International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE) in 2008 and of the education track at the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE) in 2006 and 2013. Laurie is an associate editor of the IEEE Security and Privacy magazine and on the editorial board of IEEE Software. She was an associate editor of the Information and Software Technology (IST) journal, on the editorial board of the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering and the Springer Empirical Software Engineering journals and has been a guest editor of a special issue of IEEE Software on Extreme Programming, of IEEE Computer on agile software development, and Computer Science Education on agile software development.

Laurie is also the instructor of a highly-rated professional agile software development course that has been widely taught in Fortune 500 companies. She also trains industry in other software engineering topics such as software security and is a certified instructor of John Musa's software reliability engineering course, More Reliable Software Faster and Cheaper.

Laurie received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Utah, her MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business, and her BS in Industrial Engineering from Lehigh University.   She worked for IBM Corporation in various technical and managerial capacities for nine years in Raleigh, NC and Research Triangle Park, NC before returning to academia.

Laurie has three children: Chris (31, a technologist in Silicon Valley); Kimberly (28, a chemist); and Brian (27, a recently graduated PhD in cell biology). She enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, running, yoga, and other activities that build cardiovascual and physical strength. Laurie has completed four Disney Marathons (2008-2011), the authentic Athens, Greece marathon in 2015, and numerous half marathons.