Todd C. Helmus

Photo of Todd Helmus
Senior Behavioral Scientist
Washington Office


Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Wayne State University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

More Experts


Todd C. Helmus is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation. He specializes in terrorism, strategic communications and social media. Helmus' work focuses on improving U.S. efforts to counter militant recruitment and decrease popular support for terrorism and insurgency.  He has examined the networks of ISIS supporters and opponents on Twitter and identified ways to enlist key influencers in support of U.S. strategic communications.  He also identified approaches to assess counter violent extremism campaigns. Helmus has worked closely with U.S. special operations forces (SOF) in Afghanistan where he served as an advisor to U.S. commanders and led studies on U.S. efforts to train Afghan Special Security Forces. In 2008, he also served in Baghdad as an advisor to Multi-National Forces Iraq. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Wayne State University.


Selected Publications

Todd Helmus, Erin York, Peter Chalk, Promoting Online Voices for Countering Violent Extremism, RAND (RR-130), 2013

Austin Long, Stephanie Pezard, Bryce Loidolt, Todd C. Helmus, Locals Rule: Historical Lessons for Creating Local Defense Forces for Afghanistan and Beyond, RAND (MG-1232), 2012

Lowell Schwartz, Todd C. Helmus, Dalia Dassa Kaye, Nadia Oweidat, Barriers to the Broad Dissemination of Creative Works in the Arab World, RAND (MG-879), 2009

Todd Helmus "Why and How Some People Become Terrorists," in Paul K. Davis et al., Social Science for Counterterrorism: Putting the Pieces Together, RAND (RP-1408-01), 2009

Todd C. Helmus, Christopher Paul, Russell W. Glenn, Enlisting Madison Avenue: The Marketing Approach to Earning Popular Support in Theaters of Operation, RAND (MG-607), 2007

Elizabeth Bodine Baron, Todd Helmus, Madeline Magnuson, Zev Winkelman, Examining ISIS Support and Opposition Networks on Twitter, RAND (RR-1328), 2016

Todd C. Helmus, Elizabeth Bodine Baron, Empowering ISIS Opponents on on Twitter, RAND Corporation (PE-227-RC), 2017


  • Visitors look at a painting by Saudi artist Hana Hajar in Riyadh, October 5, 2009, as part of celebrations to mark Jerusalem's tenure as the Arab League's "Capital of Arab Culture" for 2009

    Fighting Terror the Cold War Way

    With much talk about how to

    Oct 14, 2009

  • Ad Men for U.S. Defense

    Improving the U.S. military's brand identity demands more than just a catchy new slogan. While communications can help explain U.S. policies, the behavior of every soldier, sailor, airman and marine is what ultimately determines how civilians view U.S. forces, write Todd Helmus, Russell Glenn and Christopher Paul in a commentary appearing in United Press International.

    Aug 20, 2007 United Press International