Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Student aims to bolster safety


UC senior wins scholarship

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[img]
Kristin Lack from Colerain Township, a senior at the University of Cincinnati, has received a scholarship from the Department of Homeland Security Scholars Program.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
A University of Cincinnati student is on her way to becoming part of the next generation of scholars who'll protect the United States from terrorist attacks.

Kristin Lack, a 21-year-old senior and Colerain High School graduate, was one of only two Ohioans - and 101 students nationally - to receive an award from the new Homeland Security Scholars and Fellows Program.

It aims to develop future scientists who will work to stop terrorist attacks before they happen and minimize recovery efforts when they do.

The honor includes a $1,000 monthly stipend and full tuition for her senior year. But more importantly, Lack said, the eight-to-10-week internship after graduation will help her make the kinds of connections she'll need to land a good job after graduate school.

"I want to do the threat analysis," Lack said of her career ambitions. "With the actions that we're carrying out internationally, what kind of threats can come back to the United States, and what do we need to do to be prepared?"

The Homeland Security Department received about 2,500 applications for the fellows program, which is open to all U.S. students who want to pursue research in fields that the department can use.

Engineering students received about a third of the awards, followed by those in computer science, math, psychology and social science fields.

Lack has already begun research that will culminate in a 50-page paper on the proliferation weapons of mass destruction, which will double as her senior thesis.

In real life, the kind of work Lack wants to do oftentimes becomes the backbone of national security policy. If the United States disarms a country before its nuclear program can become operational, for example, would that action make other countries more likely to beef up their weapons stock or reduce it?

"If this strategy were carried out, which countries might become a threat?" Lack said. "That's the kind of question you answer.

"This is a great opportunity because you don't see these kinds of job postings at the UC job fair," she said.

Richard Harknett, a UC political science professor with an emphasis on security issues, helped Lack develop the proposal. It's a good example, he said, of student initiative and connection with faculty.

"It's structured primarily for the hard sciences, so Kristin getting this is really an accomplishment because there are fewer awarded in social sciences," he said.

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E-mail kgoetz@enquirer.com




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