Nicholas received a B.A. in Astrophysics and Computer Science in 1995, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science in 2003 from the University of California at Berkeley. Although his dissertation was on novel FPGA architectures, he also was highly interested in Computer Security, including postulating the possibility of very fast computer worms in 2001.
In 2003, he joined ICSI, first as a postdoc and then as a staff researcher. His primary research focus is on network security, notably worms, botnets, and other internet-scale attacks, and network measurement. Other areas have included both hardware acceleration and software parallelization of network intrusion detection, defenses for DNS resolvers, and tools for detecting ISP-introduced manipulations of a user's network connection.