Variety reflects university breadth

The new federal Department of Homeland Security needs the research WSU can offer but has yet to organize much in the way of funding. When more money becomes available, however, WSU plans to be ready.

“We’re already working in this area,” said Candis Claiborn, associate dean for Research and Graduate Studies for the College of Engineering and Architecture and point person for a group of WSU leaders identifying projects and collaborations that might attract homeland security money.

“There’s very little funding yet” specifically from the federal department, Claiborn said. “But many other funding agencies are redirecting some of their resources to homeland security.”

Various WSU projects have received or expect to receive those resources. Though not an exhaustive list, here are some examples:

• At WSU Spokane, the Western Regional Institute for Community Oriented Public Safety just received $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, a continuation of funding WRICOPS has gotten from DOJ since 1996. Part of the funding will go toward State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) for law enforcement agencies, which begins this month.

Also included in the 18-month award is $50,000 of homeland security funding targeted for community readiness.

“Part of our ongoing mission is to help communities assess their capacity to work together,” said John Goldman, director of WRICOPS. With DOJ funds, the institute will “modify that to address community preparedness in light of homeland security.”

The WSU pilot project likely will involve a couple of communities, he said. It will be conducted in conjunction with similar projects at four other regional community policing institutes across the country.

For more information on WRICOPS, go to http://www.wricops.spokane.wsu.edu.

Steven Stehr, associate professor of political science at WSU Pullman, released a report in July commissioned by the Century Foundation on homeland security activities of state and local governments in Washington. It can be found at http://www.tcf.org/Publications/Detail.asp?ItemID=235.

Stehr also is examining the victim assistance system as it related to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and he plans a project examining safety officers’ communications interoperability.

• Communications interoperability also has been part of a project at the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide at WSU Pullman.

“We have had some funding over the past year-and-a-half,” said director Bill Gillis.

The project seeks to promote the use of shared information to enhance public safety. The work has been a collaboration between government and private interests.

For more information, check out http://cbdd.wsu.edu/E_SAFETY/index.htm and http://www.comcare.org/research/news/speeches/011219eightpointplan.html.

• A broad program to protect food and agricultural commodities from disasters, including bioterrorism, is being promoted by Jim Cook, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Home Economics. More on that work was included in an article on WSU entomology in the Sept. 19 issue of WSU Today.

• Other recent issues of WSU Today have featured: 1) Colleen Terriff, assistant pharmacy professor, who works on emergency preparedness and bioterrorism; (2) the Institute for Shock Physics, with national security work for the U.S. Department of Defense which predates by decades the homeland security initiatives launched since Sept. 11, 2001; (3) virtual training for emergency first responders, and (4) engineering grad student Mitchell Myjak’s work — which actually is funded by the Department of Homeland Security — on a reconfigurable integrated circuit.

• Other College of Engineering projects include: (1) tracking how a poisonous gas cloud might move through a city, professor Brian Lamb and colleagues; (2) monitoring bridges for terrorist threats, professor Rafik Y. Itani and others, Federal Highway Administration grant; (3) improving computer security, led by assistant professor David Bakken, U.S. Air Force grant; (4) enhancing security of the electric power grid, professors Carl Hauser and Bakken, deanAnjan Bose, and others, federal funding has been received, with more pending and more being sought from the Departments of Homeland Security and Energy; (5) producing a micro-engine for military use, Army Space & Missile Defense Command contract; and (6) developing biosensors to monitor water quality, professors Bernie Van Wie and Neil Ivory and assistant professor Prashanta Dutta.

• In the College of Veterinary Medicine, a laboratory led by Terry McElwain is one of 12 nationwide collaborating to detect and respond to possible agriterrorist events involving animals. Backed by $750,000 made available in June 2002 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the WSU project’s focus is to quickly diagnose any bioterror agents and to make sure labs nationwide have the capacity to respond quickly to such an attack.

• Researchers from WSU’s Colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Engineering, and the USDA Animal Research Unit, have assembled a grant proposal to form a Zoonoses Unit for the soon-to-be-formed Food and Waterborne Disease Network, according to Assistant Professor Doug Call. The National Institutes of Health initiative would involve seven years of research on food and waterborne disease agents, as well as preparation to assist in any major food or waterborne bioterrorism incidents.

If awarded, this contract will be worth close to $10 million. A final announcement is expected by the end of October.

• Chemistry Professor Herbert Hill is a leader in ion mobility spectrometry, which is used to detect trace amounts of explosives in airports. His technology also can be used to detect chemical warfare and nerve agents, among other substances. His goal is to reduce his detection system to a more portable size while maintaining its accuracy.

• Funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, chemistry Professor Sue Clark advises the National Research Council and National Academy of Sciences on aspects of human exposure to radioactivity.

Andrew Storfer, assistant professor of biological sciences, does research on emerging infectious diseases, including how they spread. His focus is global amphibian decline, but “what we learn from this research may give us insight into the effects of movement of human pathogens,” including those used as biological weapons, he said.

• A cross-disciplinary team is developing proposed research on biological sensors, which could detect a variety of harmful agents, based on the model of rats’ whiskers. The team includes V.S. Manoranjan, professor of mathematics and associate dean of the College of Sciences; David Rector, Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology; and Cecilia Richards, Robert Richards and David Bahr, all associate professors with Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

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