Dakota State University students walking around campus

Preparation + opportunity = success

That's the DSU equation. We're a four-year university with nationally recognized programs, cutting-edge facilities, and the brightest thinkers. But we're also a tight-knit, inclusive community. Small class sizes mean hands-on training and individualized attention. All this with an affordable, public school price that's among the best values in the region.

Majors & Degrees

DSU doctoral students present at international symposium

May 14, 2024

San Juan, Puerto Rico, has much to offer – beaches and churches, history and museums. For two Dakota State University doctoral students – Tjada Nelson and Bryan Ikei – it also offered the opportunity to share research they have conducted in Intelligent Security and Privacy.

Both presented at the International Symposium on Intelligent Computing and Networking 2024 earlier this year. The symposium provided researchers with the opportunity to showcase their results and to interact with colleagues.

Tjada Nelson, who describes himself as a hacker and a malware researcher, is a Ph.D. candidate in Cyber Operations. He lives in Charleston, S.C., and works as a technical director for Recorded Future, which is, according to the company’s website, an independent threat intelligence platform.

Nelson worked with DSU faculty members Austin O’Brien, Cherie Noteboom, and Shengjie Xu to develop “WCFG: a weighted control flow graph dataset design for malware classification.” This research, he explained, provides a foundation for academic researchers to explore data that will have an industry impact.

He has previously collaborated and published with all three faculty members.

“They have guided me in using my industry expertise to provide value in the academic arena,” he said.

Nelson earned a B.S. in Network Security at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., and an M.S. in Computer Information Systems at Boston University. He chose DSU for his doctoral work because the program offered what he was seeking.

“It had a great balance of practical and theoretical focus and the most industry-practical coursework of all the Ph.D. programs I reviewed,” he said.

Nelson believes that presenting at the symposium both increased his public profile and demonstrated leadership in the areas of machine learning and malware analysis.

“It was a great opportunity to collaborate with academic peers and share research in an academic environment,” Nelson said.

Bryan Ikei, a Ph.D. student in Cyber Operations, worked in intelligence and cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Defense for more than 15 years, and received the Bronze Star in 2006 while engaged in combat operations in Iraq with the U.S. Army. He currently lives in San Diego, Calif., and works as a cybersecurity architect for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. This company develops unmanned aerial systems – more commonly known as drones.

Bryan Ikei, a Ph.D. student in Cyber Operations

Ikei worked with DSU alumni Hanna Thiry and faculty member Shengjie Xu to prepare “Towards Robust IoT Privacy: A Blockchain Design with Attribute-based Encryption.” He indicated this topic aligns with his current position where he teaches, mentors, and assesses junior cyber professionals.

“I may not have the opportunity to teach like other full-time Ph.D. students/candidates at an academic institution, but I am able to take my research and apply it in my profession,” he said.

Ikei earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Hawaii Pacific University and an M.S. in Computer Science from DSU. He chose to study at DSU for a variety of reasons, including cost and program rigor. However, he was also attracted to the University because it offers online programs in computer science and is recognized by the National Security Agency.

He believes that presenting at the international symposium offered numerous professional benefits.

“First and foremost, as a Ph.D. student at DSU, attending and presenting a scholarly research paper allowed me to showcase my ideas, get constructive feedback from experts and peers, and gain greater clarity about the topic of choice for my dissertation,” he said.

He indicated that having the work published would be beneficial as well.

“More importantly, this trip benefits DSU through the eyes of the research community by producing current, scholarly publications from Ph.D. students, which establishes DSU as a research institution of excellent caliber,” Ikei said.

Contact Us

Jane Utecht
Strategic Communications Coordinator
(605) 270-3816

Email Us