Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Nikolay "Nick" Ivanov

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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Nikolay "Nick" Ivanov

Faculty Spotlight on Professor Ivanov

The CS Department prides itself in its experienced, knowledgeable faculty. Recently, the department has gained several new staff members, including assistant professor Dr. Nikolay “Nick” Ivanov. The recipient of awards such as Outstanding Graduate Achievement in Computer Science Award and the Othmer Exceptional Scholar, on top of being a Certified College Teacher, graduating summa cum laude, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi– Professor Ivanov is a wonderful addition to our faculty.

Professor Ivanov just joined us this semester. He received his doctorate from Michigan State, and currently lives in the area with his wife and two kids. He lived in the American upper midwest for many years. Professor Ivanov has a hobby in aviation; “The history of aviation is a big tech success, and I’m trying to learn from it, so I can apply their experience in my own innovation,” says Ivanov.

Professor Ivanov is currently teaching two sections of Computer Organization, as his main focus here at the university is research. He’s developing a way to decentralize online accounts, so users can own and control their data in a way that is easily understandable and accessible to average citizens. “I think that the most central thing is the self-sovereign identity. It's a new word, an emerging concept,” says Ivanov. “It’s the idea that our electronic accounts should belong to us; they should not be records of our activities for anyone to see. When we interact with remote services, people should maintain full control over what data is shared and how our data is used.”

Ivanov has encountered some walls in his research; technology similar to his self-sovreign identities exist, but they’re very complicated and nearly impossible for anyone without a CS background to use.  Another issue is the pure conceptual shift– it would be a huge overhaul of systems, especially when everyone is used to what Ivanov calls the “federated” identity. Federated data is when you log into Rowan services with your NetId, or you use multiple different services simply by logging in with your Google or Facebook account. The problem with these methods is that they’re not very secure– this data is easily sold, and easily breached.

“Self-sovereign identities also require different kinds of security procedures,” says Ivanov. Federated identities have two-factor authentication and passwords, but self-sovereign identities need to use different techniques. We need to use technology such as private keys, and then we need to figure out how to use them securely.” Ivanov also has to create completely new security procedures for computers to operate self-sovereign identities. Ivanov’s self-sovereign identities are also related to his previous work with Blockulumus– a type of cloud that enables self-sovereign identities. 

Students who are interested in this sort of research are more than welcome to reach out to Professor Ivanov for further information, and how they can assist. Students that Ivanov wants on his time are those who are genuinely interested in what he’s doing. Students should also have a certain level of skill in time management and perseverance. “Most of all,” says Ivanov, “is for students to be able to take care of themselves– their physical health, their wellness, their mental health–  because research sometimes is very hard. I want students to put themselves first.”

Professor Ivanov picked Rowan as the next step in his career for several different reasons. For one, Ivanov is excited about all of the growth happening here on campus. “I feel that I have academic freedom to make my long term research goals come true,” says Ivanov. The college also has an appealing balance between high quality teaching and top level research. 

Professor Ivanov has a particular type of teaching, in which he focuses on outside relevance above all else. Ivanov focuses on connecting academic theory to real world practice, wanting to really connect his students to the topics they’re learning. Ivanov also tends to assign smaller, but continuous, tasks to his students, so it’s harder to get off track. “Work in my class is like a marathon, not a sprint,” says Ivanov. “I want to prevent them from burning out, but at the same time, I want to make sure they’re still working.” Professor Ivanov wants his teaching to be inclusive, so every single student has the tools that they need to succeed. Moreover, he’s a staunch advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion within academia. “I’m specifically trying to bridge the gap– there is a crisis of lack of women in STEM disciplines, as well as a bigger crisis in misrepresentation of minorities,” says Ivanov. “I want to do something real, not just to talk about it. This is something I will continue working very hard on, to make academia more inclusive and diverse.” Professor Ivanov’s teaching philosophy strives to put his students first; he wants them to enjoy what they’re learning, as he believes that is the key way for students to connect with their profession to succeed later on in life.

Professor Ivanov is a great addition to our faculty, and the entire department gives him a warm welcome. If you’re interested with Professor Ivanov on research opportunities, please do not hesitate to email him. 

Written by Kiley Parker | Posted 10.13.23