The Pandora Report is produced by the students and faculty of the George Mason University Biodefense Program along with a host of friends and collaborators.
Gregory Koblentz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University. Dr. Koblentz is also an Associate Faculty at the Center for Global Studies at George Mason University. Dr. Koblentz is a Research Affiliate with the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Scientist Working Group on Chemical and Biological Weapons at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC. He received his PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and his Bachelor of Arts from Brown University. His research and teaching focus on international security and weapons of mass destruction.
Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley is an Assistant Professor in the Biodefense Program. Prior to joining George Mason, she served 10 years as a Senior Research Associate at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), and Editor-in-Chief of the International Export Control Observer, a monthly newsletter devoted to the analysis of WMD export control issues in the world. Dr. Ben Ouagrham was also an adjunct professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, where she taught a course on WMD in the former Soviet Union (FSU). She received her Ph.D. in Economics of Development at the Advanced School of Social Sciences in Paris, France.
Trevor Thrall is an Associate Professor at George Mason University in the Department of Public & International Affairs. He teaches courses in international security, political communication, and U.S. military intervention. His recently edited book, American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation since 9/11 (Routledge 2009), examined why and how the Bush administration was able to build public support for the war in Iraq in 2003. The companion volume to that work, Why Did the United States Invade Iraq? (Routledge 2011), collects competing explanations about why the administration decided to go to war in the first place. Dr. Thrall received his PhD from M.I.T.
Dr. Alexander Garza (MPH, MD) is the former Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security where he managed the Department’s medical and health security matters, oversees the health aspects of contingency planning for all chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards, and leads a coordinated effort to ensure that the Department is prepared to respond to biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. Prior to joining the Department in August 2009, Dr. Garza spent 13 years as a practicing physician and medical educator.
Erik Goepner is a Ph.D. student in the GMU Public Policy program. He has an extensive security and anti-terrorism background, recently retiring from the Air Force in the rank of colonel. He commanded units in Afghanistan and Iraq, with additional deployments to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Other assignments included the Pacific theater and the United States. He has master’s degrees from George Washington University and the Air Force’s Air University. His undergraduate degree was in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.
Chris Healey is a second-year GMU Biodefense Master’s student and a Staff Writer for the Pandora Report. He graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s in communication and minors in biology and psychology. In 2013, Chris participated in an internship at the Virginia Department of Health’s Chickahominy Health District office. He was mentored by the district epidemiologist and assisted in foodborne illness investigations. His academic interests include vaccines, medical countermeasures, emerging infectious diseases, and foodborne illnesses. He is currently conducting his master’s project on the causes of success and failure of vaccine production for biodefense.
Julia Homstad is a Master’s student in the GMU Biodefense program and is also working towards a certificate in Science Communication. Her research interests include vaccine communication and global health. Julia graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Government and International Politics from George Mason University. She holds a Master of Arts degree in European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies from the University of Toronto where she focused on the development of civil society in post-Communist countries. Julia currently works at Gryphon Scientific as a analyst on an NIH contract. Julia was Managing Editor of the Pandora Report from March 2014 to August 2015
Alena Marie James is a Masters student in the GMU Biodefense program and a Staff Writer for the Pandora Report. Ms. James currently holds a BA in Political Science, a BS in Biology, and an MS in biology from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. She serves as an adjunct instructor at Marymount University where she teaches microbiology and manages several life science laboratories. Ms. James is also currently working on her Masters Project regarding the role of intergovernmental organizations in preventing state actor pursuit of biological weapons programs. She represented George Mason at the 85th Annual Southern Political Science Association Conference this past January presenting preliminary research on the role of intergovernmental organizations in preventing state sponsored BW programs.
Jonathon Marioneaux is a graduate student in the GMU Biodefense program and received his BS in biology from The College of William and Mary. He has worked as a researcher in ornithology and microbiology exploring the host-pathogen relationship between coccidian parasites and zebra finches. Prior to coming to Mason he worked for three years as an Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator and an emergency responder at Health Diagnostic Lab in Richmond VA. He currently works for the IT department for George Mason University and hopes to pursue a doctoral degree after graduation.
Greg Mercer is a Master of Science student in the George Mason Biodefense Program. A GMU “lifer”, Greg holds a BA in Government and International Politics and is an alumni of Student Government and the WGMU radio station. His research interests include media, interventions, nationalism, culture, climate change, space, and epidemics. With a wide range of interests, Greg writes for the Pandora Report on a variety of topics. He currently works as a consultant. When not at work or in class, he can be found running on the Mt. Vernon trail in Alexandria, spending all his money at live music venues, or at the AFI Silver theater.
Saskia Popescu is a PhD candidate in the GMU Biodefense program and social media editor for the Pandora Report. She hails from the University of Arizona where she studied classical history (specifically disease in ancient Rome) in her undergraduate studies. She also holds a MPH in Epidemiology and MA in International Security Studies from the University of Arizona. Her academic focus has been on bioterrorism, roadblocks for non-state actors using bioweapons, emerging infectious diseases, and healthcare preparedness. Saskia works as an infection preventionist and hospital epidemiologist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and hopes to focus her GMU studies on infection prevention efforts and emerging infectious diseases.
Scott McAlister is a first semester graduate student at George Mason University. He is pursing his Master’s degree in Biodefense, specializing in Technology and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Scott graduated from Virginia Tech in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biological science with an emphasis in genetics. He holds career aspirations in CBRNE defense and the study of advancements in biotechnology.
Rebecca (Becca) Earnhardt
Becca is a current graduate student in the M.S. Biodefense program with a concentration in Terrorism and Homeland Security. She received two B.A. degrees in Political Science and Homeland Security & Emergency Management from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2015. Her primary research interests include dual-use research of concern governance, counter violent extremism policies, and gender and terrorism. In her free time, Becca enjoys drawing and playing with her basset hound Rosie.
Mr. Blair is Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats at the Federation of American Scientists and an adjunct professor in the GMU Biodefense Program, where he lectures on the nexus of terrorism and WMD. Since the 1980s, Mr. Blair has worked on issues relating to the diffusion and diversification of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the context of proliferation amid the rise of mass casualty terrorism incidents and the centripetal and centrifugal elements of globalization. Mr. Blair’s work focuses on state and violent non-state actors (VNSA) – amid a dystopic and increasingly tribal world. Before joining FAS in 2010, he was a research associate with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) where, among other projects, he managed the Global Terrorism Database, the largest open-source compilation of terrorist events in the world. Mr. Blair also spent two years exploring elements of the Pakistani Neo-Taliban, and for almost a decade he has studied U.S. right-wing “White” nationalist groups, apocalyptic millenarian ideologies, and other groups with interest in and experiences with WMD. Mr. Blair has also worked with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies. Mr. Blair is also a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University where he instructs graduate students about the technologies underlying WMD.
Dr. Breeze is the former director of Plum Island and an Adjunct Professor in the Biodefense Department, where he lectures on agroterrorism. Dr. Breeze received his veterinary degree in 1968 and his PhD in veterinary pathology in 1973, both from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. He was engaged in teaching, diagnostic pathology, and research on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases at the University of Glasgow Veterinary School from 1968 to 1977 and at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine from 1977 to 1987, where he was professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Pathology. From 1984 to 1987, he was deputy director of the Washington Technology Center, the state’s high-technology sciences initiative, based in the College of Engineering of the University of Washington. In 1987, he was appointed director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plum Island Animal Disease Center, a Biosafety Level 3 facility for research and diagnosis related to the world’s most dangerous livestock diseases. In that role, he initiated research on the genomic and functional genomic basis of disease pathogenesis, diagnosis, and control of livestock RNA and DNA virus infections. That work became the basis of U.S. defense against natural and deliberate infection with these pathogens and led to his involvement in the early 1990s in biologic-weapons defense and proliferation prevention. From 1995 to 1998, Dr. Breeze directed research programs in 20 laboratories in the Southeast for the USDA Agricultural Research Service before going to Washington, D.C., to establish biologic-weapons defense research programs for USDA. He received the Distinguished Executive Award from President Clinton in 1998 for his work at Plum Island and in biodefense. Since 2004 he has been CEO of Centaur Science Group. He is currently Bio-Security Deputy Program Director, Global Security Directorate, Office of Strategic Outcomes, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.