From engineering, education and physics to anthropology, digital humanities and psychology, UNL is expanding research that supports national defense and security.
That commitment got a major boost in fall 2012 when the University of Nebraska and the U.S. Strategic Command announced a strategic partnership creating a University Affiliated Research Center. It is one of only 14 nationwide, all affiliated with major research universities.
The UARC is part of the university’s National Strategic Research Institute and provides research and development services to USSTRATCOM and other Department of Defense agencies in areas of faculty expertise. These include: nuclear detection and forensics, detection of chemical and biological weapons, passive defense against weapons of mass destruction, consequence management, and space, cyber and telecommunications law.
“UNL is well positioned to contribute to defense-related research thanks to our faculty expertise and responsiveness, our strengths in areas of DoD interest and strong university infrastructure,” said Kurt Preston, UNL associate vice chancellor for research who focuses on physical sciences, engineering and defense-fundable research.
At the end of fiscal 2013, UNL had 47 active projects that were awarded more than $28 million from all DoD sources. This research is diverse and includes developing: advanced laser applications for nuclear detection and other uses; nanoscale sensors and structural materials; biocomposites to help repair shattered bones; a national flood mitigation database; and programs to support military families.
Those numbers should grow in coming years, said Prem S. Paul, vice chancellor for research and economic development. There’s potential to tap UNL’s expertise across disciplines, including the humanities and social and behavioral sciences.
For example, UNL and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command are developing a partnership that would use UNL’s capabilities in forensic science and anthropology to help locate U.S. service members missing in action. Anthropology, history and digital humanities faculty might all have roles, Preston said.
“We look forward to leveraging UNL’s diverse research strengths to support our nation’s defense and security needs,” Paul said.