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DHS Minority Serving Institute Summer Research Team

About the Program

The purpose of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Summer Research Team Program is to increase and enhance the scientific leadership at Minority Serving Institutions in research areas that support the mission and goals of DHS. The program provides faculty and student research teams with the opportunity to conduct research at a university-based DHS Centers of Excellence. The BTI Institute hosts one of these teams as part of this program. 

More information about the program can be found here:

Summer 2020

fernando-harshica.jpg Dr. Harshica Fernando, Assistant Professor with Prairie View A&M University, will be working with Dr. Richard Willson, Huffington-Woestemeyer Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and member of the Institute Research Committee, as part of the 2020 DHS MSI SRT hosted by the BTI Institute. 

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Dr. Richard Willson (left), the project mentor, gives a tour of the University of Houston Lab to Dr. Harshica Fernando, Shandrell Boykin, and Aijalon Bettis.  Students utilize the laboratory at Prairie View A&M as part of the project.  Meetings in the time of COVID. Dr. Fernando presents her team's research findings to Dr. Willson's laboratory team and the BTI Institute management team. Beth White, Ph.D., Education Project Manager at ORISE was present for the out brief. 


Summer 2019


The Institute hosted Dr. Nursen Zanca, Economics Coordinator at the University of the Incarnate Word, and graduate student Nicholas Randol as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Minority Serving Institutions Summer Research Team program. They are working with Maura Pereira de Leon, Ph.D., Manager of Education and Training for BTI, and Luis Torres, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Research and Strategic Partnerships at the Graduate College of Social Work.

Dr. Zanca and Mr. Randol researched the methodology and meaning behind the Global Terrorism Index. The GTI is estimated from the Global Terrorism Database collected by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) DHS Center of Excellence. The GTI ranks nations according to terrorist activity based on the number of terrorist incidents, number of fatalities associated with terrorist incidents, number of injuries associated with terrorist incidents, and the approximate level of property damage from terrorist incidents.

Their research investigated the methodology behind the index, past and present trends in the GTI score for the U.S., and the economic cost of terrorism on the U.S. economy.

Their end of research presentation with video can be found here

Follow On Update

DHS S&T has awarded follow on funding to continue Dr. Zanca's research. The entire list of projects selected and comments from Matthew Coats, S&T's Director of University Programs can be found here