Having worked at Iona since 2011, what do you think makes Iona stand out from the other institutions? Iona College is an open academic community that encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration. It is easy to know almost everyone and feel like part of this vibrant community. The environment is safe and friendly, and I feel excited to attend any type of community event here. Classes have small sizes, especially in the Computer Science Department, which gives a unique opportunity for students and faculty to work closer with each other, and in particular enables students to receive direct faculty attention. The president of Iona College, Joseph E. Nyre, Ph.D., is always available to talk to students and faculty members. He is a true role model. Also, unlike other institutions, where different departments are often isolated from each other, Iona College encourages interdisciplinary, cross-department collaboration. Joint research work with other research institutions is also highly appreciated. What changes have you seen in the Computer Science Department during your time at Iona? Iona College is a very dynamic environment. For example, when I became a faculty member in 2011, the Computer Science Department did not even offer a cyber security course. Now students can obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees in computer science with concentrations in cyber security. Also, the department has created new concentrations in game development, which are very popular among new students. The choice of courses has also become very rich. Some of the new courses I am proud to have introduced as part of the concentrations in cyber security include web application security, mobile application security, networking programming, networking security, software security, cryptography, program analysis for security, and cloud security and privacy. Furthermore, we are in the process of applying for the National Security Alliance (NSA) Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations accreditation. Another positive change that I have witnessed is that an increasing number of students are now presenting research work at top security conferences. Additionally, numerous students have been hired as interns at prestigious industrial and academic organizations. You are a part of many research initiatives in your field. How do you bring your research into your teachings in the classroom? There are different ways and approaches that I use to bring theoretical and hands-on learning experiences into my classes. When I teach graduate students, I have them read and present to the rest of the class on the latest scientific papers and publications that are relevant to the subject of the class. Also, as part of my research, I have had the opportunity to develop new technologies for software security. Whenever possible, I ask students to use these technologies for homework, projects and research thesis
topics. I have also invited external researchers working in cyber security to give a talk or present a seminar during a class. Additionally, I always encourage students to participate in projects that I am working on. Iona students are charged to Move the World and make an impact. How do you think Ionaâ€™s computer science students are moving the world? We have excellent students in the Computer Science Department, and I have helped many of them submit their work to top conferences, such as the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC 2015). Students who are pursuing a degree with a concentration in cyber security are also helping the department in reaching out to high school communities, which is one of the requirements that needs to be met in order for our cyber security concentration programs to be NSA-accredited. Our students are distinguishing themselves because they are also receiving very competitive awards, such as an ACSAC student conferenceship award, the National Security Foundation (NSF) funded summer internships, and the Upsilon Pi Epsilon scholarship award. Many of our students, after graduation, are hired by top IT organizations or open successful startups. Iona College students and alumni are definitely making an impact. What do you like most about being a part of the Iona College community? I very much enjoy teaching and advising students. It is rewarding to see the positive influence that an encouraging and motivating teacher can have on a student. When one of my students obtains a strong research result, has a paper accepted at an important conference, receives an award or finds a good job, it is a great satisfaction for me. What do you believe is the future of the Computer Science Department, and Iona College? The Computer Science Department at Iona College is an excellent department. I envision more competitive programs in the future. For example, I imagine that there will be even more courses in cyber security, and the programs will be National Security Alliance (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) accredited. This is crucial, not only for the department but also for the whole school, since nowadays both the students and their parents are looking at competitive programs that lead to strong job positions in the future. Furthermore, the department is growing in numerous directions, such as game development, which is attracting many new students. In addition to cyber security and game development, the department has faculty members with unique specializations, such as data mining, databases and image processing, so I am sure that there will be even more courses in these areas. I see a great potential for the Computer Science Department, and I am proud to be part of it.