Congrats to GMU Biodefense 2014 Graduates!!

If the words CBRN, Deterrence, Terrorism, Tacit Knowledge, Anthrax, Vaccination, Public Health, International Security, The Rajneesh’s Cult, Aum Shinrikyo, Iraqi WMD, Biopreparat, The Pandora Report, Bruce Ivans, Small Pox, Intelligence, Arms Control, Measles, The Biological Weapons Convention, Biosurveillance, BioSense, BioWatch, and Zombie have any meaning to you, you might just FINALLY be one of George Mason University’s few and proud Biodefense graduates.

This year our program is very proud to have graduated 3 Doctoral Candidates and 20 Masters Candidates well equipped to fight the good fight against the Zombie Apocalypse!

CONGRATULATIONS to GMU’s Biodefense Doctoral and Masters Class of 2014!!

Doctoral Candidates
Jenna Frost
Brian M. Mazanec
William E. Sumner

Master’s Candidates
Amy Armitage
Kellie Bolling
Ashley Eilers-Lupton
Courtney Gavitt
Deborah Harden
Christopher Healey
Michael Herman
Alena James
Blain Johnson
Quyen Kim
David Kimble
Annabel Lang
Katherine Montwill
Nicole Morgan Starks
Ashley Negrin
Cathleen Nguyen
Erika Olsen
Laura Sears
Saranga Senaratna
Brian Wilber

Deborah Harden Receives GMU Biodefense Departmental Award

By Alena M. James

HardenJust a few years ago, Deborah Harden made the decision to continue her education.  After earning her undergraduate degree in engineering and serving in the U.S. Air Force as an Aerospace engineer, Harden began working at Battelle, a nonprofit that plays a major role in managing the world’s leading national laboratories. The company offers expertise and resources helping government agencies and multi-national corporations in several projects. In her employment at Battelle, Harden very quickly recognized that an understanding of biodefense would help her acquire financial resources to fund projects for the company.  In order to gain this knowledge, she enrolled in GMU’s Biodefense Program. “When I began working at Battelle, I needed to understand biodefense so I could better articulate what our scientists were researching so I could find funding for them,” Harden said.

This year Harden completed her Master’s Project on a very interesting topic examining what happens to bioengagagment programs once donor funds stop being made available. “I studied sustainability of U.S. bioengagement programs.  After the fall of the Soviet Union, several agencies in the U.S. worked with the newly independent states to secure pathogen collections, institute disease surveillance systems, and work with former weapons scientists to learn to conduct peaceful research programs.  Money from donor countries like the U.S. won’t continue forever, so what happens to these biologists and programs after the donors leave?  I found some great literature about sustainment and found that we’re mostly on the right track, but more can be done,” explained Harden.  Dr. Gregory Koblentz served as Harden’s advisor and provided her with numerous resources and feedback to help her with the project.

Harden’s project coincided nicely with her current profession. As a program manager for Battelle, she developed and worked on bioengagment programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. “My job is to determine the state of biological research, safety, and security in these countries, and find ways to improve them so they meet WHO and international standards.  I also lead some tasks in the Republic of Georgia trying to make their BSL-3 public health laboratory sustainable,” she explained.

Not only has Deborah completed her project and continues to evaluate programs overseas, but she was also selected as this year’s Departmental Award Recipient of the Master’s Program for her work and scholarly achievements.

Harden’s experience in the Biodefense program has been pretty great for her. She explains that she learned just as much from her smart fellow-students as she did from the courses she was taking. “It was an eye-opener for me because I expected to go to GMU to learn and found that contributing was just as important. That wasn’t my experience as an undergrad.” The retired Aerospace Engineer enjoyed taking several classes in the program that helped her to gain a better understanding of her own field in bioengagment. She also really enjoyed her classes on policy and treaties, arms control, disease surveillance, and the Examining Terrorist Groups course.

With her Master’s Project now behind her, Harden is already contemplating how to spend her time.  “I’m thinking of re-learning French or maybe beginning Russian. Or I might reapply for a PhD in Biodefense. There is a lot more I could do with the research I began.”

“People always ask me if it’s frightening studying something like bioterrorism.  I tell them that the most comforting thing I learned was how hard it is to actually make a bioweapon that is capable of killing a large number of people.  And that Mother Nature is probably the scariest bioterrorist.”

Harden also had a few words of advice for the future graduates and prospective students of GMU’s Biodefense Program.

“Keep an open mind about things you read.  Academia and the ‘real world’ are often two different animals.  Also, please read at least half of what you are supposed to read before a class!”

 

(Banner Image Credit: George Mason University)

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Alexander Garza

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


Alexander Garza, MD, MPH, FACEP

Dr. Alexander Garza, Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Associate Professor of Epidemiology at St. Louis University in the College for Public Health and Social Justice, is the director for this summer’s Biosurveillance: National and International Levels course in the Summer Program in International Security. This course will run July 24-25.

Dr. Garza is a fellow in the American College of Emergency Physicians and a member of the American Public Health Association. He is a Senior Editor for the Oxford Handbook in Disaster Medicine and has authored numerous chapters in medical texts and published multiple articles and peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Garza served as Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs and the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security from 2009-2013 and prior to that was a practicing physician and medical educator—serving as the Director of Military Programs at the ER One Institue at Washington Hospital Center, the Associate Medical Director of Emergency Medical Services for the State of New Mexico, and the Director of Emergency Medical Services The Kansas City, MO Health Department. He has served as a professor at Georgetown University, the University of New Mexico and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Dr. Garza served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was a battalion surgeon and public health team chief during Operation Flintlock in Dakar, Senegal. He also served as a public health team chief during Operation Iraqi Freedom and as a special investigator and medical expert for Major General Raymond Odierno. He holds a medical degree from the University of Missouri – Columbia School of Medicine, a Master of Public Health from the Saint Louis University School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Click here to register for Biosurveillance: National and International Levels.

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


 

GormleyDr. Sonia ben Ouagrham-Gormley, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs and member of the Biodefense faculty at George Mason University, is the director for this summer’s WMD Export Controls course in the Summer Program in International Security. This course will run July 10-11 and aims to increase participants’ awareness and understanding of WMD proliferation, export controls and trafficking of related materials.

Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley’s research and teaching focuses on WMD and proliferation issues. Her recent publications include “The social context shaping bioweapons (non) proliferation,” “An Unrealized Nexus? WMD-Related Trafficking, Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Former Soviet Union,” and “Banking on Nonproliferation: Improving the Implementation of Financial Sanctions.”  Her forthcoming book from Cornell University Press, Barriers to Bioweapons, extends on her article by the same name and provides the most detailed examination to date of how and why biological weapons programs succeed or fail.

Prior to joining George Mason, Dr. Ouagrham-Gormley 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. Ouagrham-Gormley 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.

Click here to register for WMD Export Controls.

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Gregory Koblentz

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


Koblentz

Dr. Greg Koblentz, Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs and Deputy Director of the Biodefense Program at George Mason University, is the course director for this summer’s short course: Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and International Security. The course will run July 21-23.

Dr. Koblentz’s research and teaching focus on international security, biosecurity, and weapons of mass destruction. His recent publications include “Biosecurity reconsidered: Calibrating biological threats and responses.” and “The threat of pandemic influenza: why today is not 1918.” His book, Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security, remains one of the most influential publications in the field of biodefense since its publication in 2009. In fact, we often tell prospective students to read his book for a “one book version” of our Biodefense Master’s program. He is at work now on a book on nuclear proliferation.

Dr. Koblentz is also 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.

Click here to register for Pandemics, Bioterrorism, and International Security.

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Charles Blair

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


 

Headshot_BlairCharles P. Blair is a Washington, D.C.-based university instructor, researcher, writer, and thinker specializing in terrorism and the history, technical underpinnings, and potential futures of Weapons of Mass Destruction. He is the director for two courses in the Summer Program in International Security: 21st Century Terrorism: Emerging Trends and Evolving Tactics which runs July 14-16 and Terrorism Analysis: Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodologies and Tools which runs July 17-18.

Since visiting Moscow as a student in 1985, Blair has worked on issues relating to globalization and the diffusion and diversification of WMD in the context of the rise of mass casualty terrorism incidents. He teaches graduate-level classes on terrorism and the technology of WMD at Johns Hopkins University and George Mason University and is a columnist for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Recent works include: “Terrorist Nuclear Command and Control,” which was completed under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security; a two-year DHS-backed study which investigated the U.S. extreme right-wing and radiological and nuclear terrorism; “Target Sochi: The threat from the Caucasus Emirate,”; and  “Barely Lethal: Terrorists and Ricin.”

Mr. Blair is a Senior Fellow on State and Non-State Threats at the Federation of American Scientists. Before joining FAS, he has worked at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies.

Click here to register for 21st Century Terrorism: Emerging Trends and Evolving Tactics.

Click here to register for Terrorism Analysis: Quantitative and Qualitative Research Methodologies and Tools

Meet Your 2014 Summer Program Faculty: Charles Ferguson

In preparation for the GMU Summer Program in International Security, this week we will highlight the course directors. Remember, EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 15! Register by May 15 to save $300 on a three-day course and $200 on a two-day course. Use the links below for more details including registration.  Questions? Comment to this post or email spis@gmu.edu.


ferguson

Dr. Charles D. Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), is the course director for this summer’s CBRN Weapons: Science & Policy in the Summer Program in International Security. This course will run July 7-9.

With more than twenty years’ experience in policy and national security, Dr. Ferguson has researched and written extensively on energy policy, nuclear nonproliferation, missile defense, and prevention of nuclear and radiological terrorism. His publications include 2011’s Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know, The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism (with William Potter) in 2005, and the report Commercial Radioactive Sources: Surveying the Security Risks, which was the first in-depth, post-9/11 study of the “dirty bomb” threat. This report won the 2003 Robert S. Landauer Lecture Award from the Health Physics Society.

Dr. Ferguson has worked as the Philip D. Reed senior fellow for science and technology at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), consulted with Sandia National Laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration on improving the security of radioactive sources, and as a physical scientist in the Office of the Senior Coordinator for Nuclear Safety at the U.S. Department of State. He graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy, served in the U.S. Navy as a nuclear engineering officer, and earned a PhD in physics from Boston University. He has previously taught as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the Johns Hopkins University.

Click here to register for CBRN Weapons: Science & Policy.

GMU Faculty Member and NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane Nominated to New Term

Congratulations to GMU PIA Faculty Member Allison Macfarlane on her nomination to a second term as Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman!

“President Barack Obama has nominated Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane to a new five-year term. Macfarlane, a geologist, took over the agency last summer after its former chairman, Gregory Jaczko, resigned amid complaints about an unyielding management style that fellow commissioners and agency employees described as bullying. Macfarlane was initially named to a one-year term that expires in June. Obama named her Thursday to a new five-year term. The appointment requires approval by the Senate.”

Read more here.

Bragging About Our Students

StartSmallCongratulations to our brilliant Biodefense MS Students, Alan Muhammet and Justin Ludgate! Both these brains have secured internships with START (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism).

Alan Muhammet is an intern analyst and Justin Ludgate is a Spring Semeseter intern in the Special Projects Division of START, where he works on the Chemical/Biological Adversaries project.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the organization for those of you not as familiar as you should be:

“The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism—better known as START – is a university-based research center committed to the scientific study of the causes and human consequences of terrorism in the United States and around the world.

Headquartered at the University of Maryland, START supports research efforts of leading social scientists at more than 50 academic and research institutions, each of whom is conducting original investigations into fundamental questions about terrorism, including:

  • Under what conditions does an individual or a group turn to terrorism to pursue its goals? What is the nature of the radicalization process?
  • What attack patterns have different terrorists demonstrated during the past forty years? How has terrorist behavior evolved? And, what does this indicate about likely future terrorist activity?
  • What impact does terrorism and the threat of terrorism have on communities, and how can societies enhance their resilience to minimize the potential impacts of future attacks?

START experts apply a range of research methods to the exploration of these questions in order to deliver findings based on the best available open-source evidence and data. At the heart of START’s work are the principles that the research it is conducting must be both scientifically rigorous and directly relevant to homeland security professionals.

START is committed to the widespread dissemination of its research findings not only to homeland security professionals, but also to students of all levels and to the general public. START has developed educational materials and programs specifically designed for instructors and students at the secondary, university, and graduate school levels. Educational resources available through START include relevant lesson plans, a syllabi repository, and a range of unique data sources that can be integrated into an array of courses to deepen students’ understanding of the dynamics of terrorism. START also has internships and funding opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in terrorism research.”

Read more here.

Job Posting: Opening in the Office of Policy and Planning at ASPR in HHS

Our colleague at HHS ASPR, Diane DiEuliis, asked me to share the following job announcement. It is a director-level policy position in the office of Policy and Planning at ASPR. The person would be responsible for working through the National Health Security Strategy, among other ASPR frameworks. In addition, the person would also do quite a bit of interagency management, as well as state and local collaboration, on all preparedness and response policy issues.

Please contact her directly if you have any questions. Her contact information is 202-260-6119 or diane.dieuliis@hhs.gov.

Job listed here: (HHS) DE-13-825710