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Nicol named new director of Information Trust Institute

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By Jenny Applequist, Information Trust Institute
February 9, 2011

David M. Nicol
David M. Nicol

ECE Professor David M. Nicol has been named the new director of the Information Trust Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Effective January 16, he succeeded ITI's inaugural director, ECE Professor William H. Sanders, who had became director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory at Illinois.

Nicol has been on the faculty of the ECE Department since 2003, and has participated in ITI since its founding in 2004. Prior to joining Illinois, he held positions at the Institute for Computer Applications in Science and Engineering, the College of William and Mary, and Dartmouth College, where he served as chair of the Department of Computer Science and helped to establish the Institute for Security Technology Studies. He earned his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Virginia in 1985.

"I'm honored to be entrusted with the leadership of ITI," said Nicol. "Our society depends enormously on complex cyber-enabled systems like the electric power grid, finance, health care, and transportation; the trend is towards more automation in most technical domains. The research fostered by ITI is absolutely critical in helping to design systems that are trustworthy—that they work as expected in all contexts, even in the presence of malicious cyber-attacks upon them."

Nicol also commented on ITI's unique philosophy: "ITI's approach is exceptional in developing industry partnerships and emphasizing interdisciplinary work. It brings together people who are doing basic science and people who are creating practical, real-world applications for that science. It's an exciting place, and I'm looking forward to bringing my perspectives to the difficult challenges that ITI is addressing."

"I couldn't be more pleased that Professor Nicol has accepted the directorship of ITI," said Ilesanmi Adesida, dean of the College of Engineering, which houses ITI. "ITI has been a tremendous success, but the potential for future growth is limitless. David has earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues at the University and throughout the research community. We are very fortunate to welcome someone of his caliber to lead ITI into its next era."

Ravishankar K. Iyer, the interim vice chancellor for research, echoed Adesida's sentiments: "David Nicol is a world leader in the security and trust field, and an educator of outstanding merit with the ability to take ITI to the next level in its evolution. I am delighted that he has agreed to be its next director. I am confident he will enhance ITI's already strong national and international stature."

Nicol's own research areas include analysis of computer and communication systems, particularly with respect to security (attacks and defensive measures); quantitative methods for security evaluation; high-performance computing; parallel algorithms; and modeling and simulation methodologies. His many technical publications include the textbook Discrete-Event System Simulation (Prentice-Hall). His numerous honors include designation as a Fellow of the IEEE and the ACM, as well as the first ACM SIGSIM Distinguished Contributions Award, given in 2007 for his contributions to the area of computer-based simulation.

About the Information Trust Institute (ITI)

The Information Trust Institute is a multidisciplinary cross-campus research unit housed in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is an international leader, combining research and education with industrial outreach in trustworthy and secure information systems. ITI brings together over 100 faculty, many senior and graduate student researchers, and industry partners to conduct foundational and applied research to enable the creation of critical applications and cyber infrastructures. In doing so, ITI is creating computer systems, software, and networks that society can depend on to be trustworthy, that is, secure, dependable (reliable and available), correct, safe, private, and survivable. Instead of concentrating on narrow and focused technical solutions, ITI aims to create a new paradigm for designing trustworthy systems from the ground up and validating systems that are intended to be trustworthy.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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