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Thursday, September 21, 2023

National Preparedness Month: Class Is in Session

There are infinite possibilities for furthering your knowledge when it comes to research and development.

As summer draws to a close and a new school year begins, the Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) steadfast mission to pursue science and technology in the name of national security is a poignant reminder that we never really stop learning. Perhaps rather than simply acknowledging that the world is always evolving and we’re all doing our best to keep pace, we can instead embrace the opportunity to be lifelong students. With that in mind, DHS S&T is celebrating National Preparedness Month this year by offering a “back to school” toolkit.

A well-rounded “curriculum”: training courses and guidance

The Advanced Open/Obstructed Test Proctor Course for Evaluating Drone Capabilities and Remote Pilot Proficiency uses a suite of standardized test methods developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It consists of 24 hours of classroom and hands-on flight instruction to “train the trainer,” so newly certified proctors can take what they’ve learned back to their home agencies and subsequently certify their drone operators. The course was most recently offered at the U.S. Secret Service training facility in Maryland this past June to certify 12 participants at a basic proficiency level.

The First Aid for Severe Trauma (FAST) education program helps mitigate potential tragedy by empowering high school students with the training needed to treat bleeding emergencies until an ambulance can arrive. The course is offered at no cost thanks to S&T sponsorship and was developed by the American Red Cross in collaboration with the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health.

The Person-Borne Explosives Detection (PBED) Canine Training Guideline is an interactive, HTML-based tool for handlers and trainers of explosive detection canines to upgrade their capabilities. Traditional explosive detection dogs are trained to seek out threats hidden within stationary objects, but PBED canines must also detect and track explosives in motion and concealed on a person. More than 30 canine/handler teams from local, state, federal and university law enforcement agencies contributed to the training tool.

Assigned listening: podcast “lectures” by subject matter experts

By listening to S&T’s Technologically Speaking podcast, you can take a deep dive into the science of homeland security in a matter of minutes. Our many mission areas are examined by the experts on the front lines of keeping America safe. Benefit from their experience and know-how by catching up on past episodes—and be sure to tune in for season three this fall. Don’t worry, there won’t be a pop quiz.

  • Season 1 Episode 1: “A Very Nasty Insecticide You Don’t Want in Your Food” (Intro to Food Defense) – Program Manager for Chemical Threat Characterization at the Chemical Security Analysis Center Jessica Cox explains food safety vs. food defense and the unexpected threats they pose to our nation.
  • Season 1 Episode 4: “The Three-legged Stool” (Biometrics 300) – Biometrics and Identity Technology Center Program Manager Arun Vemury discusses facial recognition performance and fairness. Discover how it works and what S&T is doing to overcome current challenges.
  • Season 1 Episode 5: “Getting Creative About How to Get the Message Through” (Electronic Jamming Seminar) – Office of Science and Engineering Program Manager Sridhar Kowdley recounts JamX 2022, a field exercise in the New Mexico desert where S&T evaluated tactics and technologies to help responders better deal with electronic jamming.
  • Season 2 Episode 2: “It’s Going to Be World Changing” (Principles of Quantum Information Science) – Technical Lead and Expert in Cybersecurity and Quantum Information Science (QIS) Dr. Ann Cox covers the many ways QIS is already affecting our world, and how S&T is preparing for the opportunities and challenges it will bring.
  • Season 2 Episode 4: “Keeping Criminals Up at Night” (Select Topics in Digital Forensics) – Program Manager for Forensics and Criminal Investigations Shane Cullen examines the role digital forensics tools play in catching criminals who commit unthinkable acts, as well as other applications of the technologies in investigations.
  • Minisode 3: “Try it on a Real Bomb” (A Class Trip to Quantico) – Go behind the scenes of a counter-improvised explosive device (IED) tech demonstration with Research and Prototyping for IED Defeat (RAPID) Program Manager Bill Stout and FBI Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Ian Vabnick.

There are infinite possibilities for furthering your knowledge when it comes to research and development. After our enduring mission to protect the nation, it’s what makes the work we do so fulfilling. Discover many more ways you can benefit from S&T expertise on our Preparedness Resources for Communities and First Responders page, as well as these links to our Centers of ExcellenceMinority Serving Institutions Program, and Workforce Development Initiatives.

Read more at DHS S&T

Dimitri Kusnezov, Ph.D.
Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov was confirmed as the Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) on September 8, 2022. As the science advisor to the Homeland Security Secretary, Dr. Kusnezov heads the research, development, innovation and testing and evaluation activities in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) operational Components and first responders across the nation. S&T is responsible for identifying operational gaps, conceptualizing art-of-the-possible solutions, and delivering operational results that improve the security and resilience of the nation. Prior to DHS, Dr. Kusnezov was a theoretical physicist working at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) focusing on emerging technologies. He served in numerous positions, including the Deputy Under Secretary for Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Technology where he led efforts to drive AI innovation and bring it into DOE missions, business and operations, including through the creation of a new AI Office. Dr. Kusnezov has served in scientific and national security positions, including Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, Chief Scientist for the National Nuclear Security Administration, Director of Advanced Simulation and Computing and the Director of the multi-billion-dollar National Security Science, Technology and Engineering programs. He created numerous programs, including for Minority Serving Institutions, international partners, private sector and philanthropic entities. He has worked across agencies to deliver major milestones such as DOE’s 10-year grand challenge for a 100 Teraflop supercomputer, and first of their kind and world’s fastest supercomputers. Prior to DOE and his pursuit of public service, Dr. Kusnezov had a long career in academia where he published more than 100 articles and edited two books. He joined Yale University faculty where he was a professor for more than a decade in Theoretical Physics and served as a visiting professor at numerous universities around the world. Before this post, Dr. Kusnezov did a brief postdoc and was an instructor at Michigan State University, following a year of research at the Institut fur Kernphysik, KFA-Julich, in Germany. He earned his MS in Physics and Ph.D. in Theoretical Nuclear Physics at Princeton University and received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Physics and in Pure Mathematics with highest honors from UC Berkeley.

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