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2013.07.23 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Communications
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: unonews@unomaha.edu

Dept. of Homeland Security Honors Pair of UNO Students With Research Award, Internship

Omaha - Two University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) graduate students were recently selected out of several hundred of applicants to help fight the War on Terror, thanks to their acceptance into a competitive program led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Dan Harris, a UNO doctoral student in the industrial/organizational psychology program, and Quinn Guilds, a UNO master’s student in criminology and criminal justice, have earned prestigious recognition from the National Consortium for Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START.

Harris is the recipient of a START Terrorist Research Award for 2013-2014, the first student in Nebraska to earn such an award since START was formed in 2005. Guilds is the recipient of an internship with START at University of Maryland headquarters.

Both students will conduct research that will not only provide important insights into the topic of terrorism, but that research may very well be used to stop potential international and domestic terror attacks in the future.

Harris’ award consists of a $5,000 stipend to conduct research, as well as additional funds for him to travel to the START annual meeting in 2014 and visit the DC area for developmental opportunities related to terrorism research.

The award also includes a scholarship for him to attend graduate courses offered by START at the University of Maryland.

“This is a very important award for students like me,” Harris says. “Not only does it give me the opportunity to conduct research which could end up breaking new ground but it provides exposure to what it is like to conduct research as a professor and does so through an interdisciplinary approach that relies on collaboration between different departments.”

Through his research, Harris hopes to identify speech patterns that could signal someone’s reasons for leaving an extremist group. Harris will be working with three UNO professors over the next year: Gina Ligon, assistant professor of management; Pete Simi, associate professor of criminology; and Doug Derrick; assistant professor of IT Innovation.

Harris met the three faculty through his Graduate Assistantship in UNO’s Center for Collaboration Science. All three have received DHS funding for their research.

"Dan is doing incredibly important work,” says Ligon. “Dr. Simi and I nominated Dan for this award after seeing his work ethic and potential for future impact on the field through several collaborative grant proposals with him. He is an asset to The Center for Collaboration Science."

Guilds’ internship with START will take place during the Fall 2013 semester and count for credit towards his degree. Through his internship, Guilds will be analyzing information from the Global Terrorism Database for the U.S. Department of State. He will be one of approximately six interns working on this project out of hundreds of applicants.

“The entire terrorism dynamic, from history, to understanding, to motivation is often more complex and controversial than what the media and the press care to undertake or write about,” Guilds says. “My goal through this semester of study is to break through that aforementioned terrorism and media barrier and find the true significance of these events within.”

The semester will consist of working on any number of projects including gathering data on number and types of attacks over time; analyzing attack trends; and projecting those trends out into the future.

Guilds plans on leaving for his internship at the beginning of August.

For more information on START, visit http://www.start.umd.edu/start.

For more information on any of the projects being worked on by UNO students and faculty through the DHS, contact Charley Reed, UNO media relations coordinator, at 402.554.2129 or by email at unonews@unomaha.edu.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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