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11 Universities Will Lead New Centers of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on Feb. 26 the selection of 11 universities that will be among partner institutions leading five new Centers of Excellence and receiving a multi-year grant of up to $2 million per year, over a period of four to six years.

“Investments in long-term, basic research are vital for the future of homeland security,” said Jay M. Cohen, under secretary for science and technology. “These colleges and universities are leaders in their fields of study. They will provide scientific expertise, high-quality resources, and independent thought – all valuable to securing America.”

Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration: The University of Arizona at Tucson and University of Texas at El Paso will co-lead a new center for research  on balancing immigration and commerce with effective border security.

Center of Excellence for Explosives Detection, Mitigation and Response: Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., and the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I., will co-lead a new center responsible for research on the risks, costs and consequences of terrorism, as well as new means and methods to protect the nation.

Center of Excellence for Maritime, Island and Port Security: The University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii and Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., will co-lead a new center for research on strengthening maritime domain awareness and safeguarding populations and properties unique to U.S. islands, as well as remote and extreme environments.

Center of Excellence for Natural Disasters, Coast Infrastructure and Emergency Management: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., will co-lead a new center  for research on safeguarding populations, properties, and economies in catastrophic natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, droughts, and wildfires.

Center of Excellence for Transportation Security: Texas Southern University in Houston, Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss., and the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., will co-lead a new center for research on defending the nation’s multi-modal transportation infrastructure.

At the University of Arizona, President Robert N. Shelton welcomed the announcement.

“This is the latest example of how the UA can leverage its geographical advantage to serve the people of Arizona,” said Shelton. “By applying the expertise of our faculty to the challenges of immigration and border security, we are expanding our standing as international leaders into a new realm of social challenges, and the beneficiaries will be the people of the United States, Canada and Mexico.”

The Center of Excellence for Border Security and Immigration will be led by Jay Nunamaker Jr., Regents’ Professor and Soldwedel Professor of Management Information Systems, Computer Science and Communication. He currently serves as the director of the UA’s Center for Management of Information in the Eller College of Management.

Elyse Golob will serve as the associate director. She currently serves as the director of the UA Office of Economic and Policy Analysis.

“The UA provided a strategic location for the center because of its position along the U.S.-Mexico border and its long-standing relationships with border stakeholders, as well as with Mexican and Canadian institutions,” Golob said. “Particularly beneficial was our leadership of the Southwest Security Border Consortium, a partnership of border universities created last year to develop and disseminate scientific and policy solutions to the issues we all face along the border.”

These institutions were designated by Congress with the passage of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. They join eight previously designated centers. []

The Centers of Excellence program is managed by the Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs. The program takes advantage of the unsurpassed research capabilities and intellectual capital of U.S. colleges and universities to fill knowledge and technology gaps for the department.

For more information about University Programs and current Centers of Excellence, visit

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