July 2, 2015 - In This Issue:

Checkpoint of the Future
ALERT Continues to Foster Collaboration at ADSA12 Workshop

 

On May 12-13, 2015, the Twelfth Advanced Development for Security Applications Workshop (ADSA12) was held at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The workshop focus was, "Screening of Personnel and Divested Items at the Checkpoint," and was a continuation of the first workshop, ADSA01. The topic was chosen in order to support the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) objective of improving the performance of existing technologies and to improve the passenger experience at checkpoints. Another goal of the workshop was to support DHS's objective to increase the participation of third parties, such as researchers from academia, national labs, and industry other than the incumbent vendors, in algorithm and system development for security applications.

 

The key findings from the workshop on what can be done to solve the checkpoint problems are: use of risk based screening including under-screening; improved concept of operations; integrating systems and data; setting standards for systems interfacing, data integration and testing in lab and field; developing better hardware and reconstruction software and identifying orthogonal technologies.

 

The next workshop, ADSA13, will be a continuation of ADSA12, and is planned for the fall of 2015.

 

NEWS & EVENTS
Student Spotlight: Mihindra Dunuwille, Washington State University
Completed her Ph.D. in the spring of 2015!

Congratulations to Mihindra Dunuwille, a spring 2015 Chemistry Ph.D. graduate at Washington State University (WSU), who has recently started working as a postdoc at the University of Utah! During her time at WSU, Mihindra worked on ALERT research under the guidance of Prof. Choong-Shik Yoo. Her thesis, "Pressure-induced Physical and Chemical Changes of Non-conventional Energetic Materials: Nitrate, Perchlorate and Peroxide Chemistries at High Pressures and High Temperatures," focused on discerning the chemical properties of non-conventional materials that are widely used in terrorist activities in the hopes of developing techniques to mitigate explosives-related threats. 

 

Mihindra has been drawn to physical chemistry since high school, and received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka. She was originally introduced to Prof. Yoo's research while at WSU on a prospective visit before accepting their offer to join the Ph.D. program in 2008.  In her new role as a postdoc at the University of Utah, Mihindra has the opportunity to demonstrate her skills and experience from her previous project, while also getting the chance to explore new scientific techniques. When asked about her career goals, she undoubtedly wants to continue doing research on explosives where she would like to have a positive impact on society, and would one day like to work for a national lab.   

 

ALERT Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Begins
Welcome to our ALERT REUs!

This summer, ALERT is hosting 5 undergraduate students who are participating in the 10-week REU program. At Northeastern University, two students are working with Prof. Carey Rappaport, one student is working with Prof. Jose Martinez, and one student is working with John Beaty. ALERT is also hosting a student at the University of Puerto Rico MayagŁez who is doing research with Prof. Samuel Hernandez.    

 

The ALERT REU program is partnering with other REU programs in the College of Engineering to build a cohort of students who jointly attend professional development meetings and program activities. At the end of the summer each student will give a final presentation on their research project.  

  

ALERT Research Featured in
The New York Times
Reported by Ron Nixon of the NYT, on May 8th, 2015

ALERT "Tag-and-Track" video surveillance research was featured in a recent New York Times article, which discussed the video analytics project being led by Prof. Octavia Camps and Prof. Mario Sznaier at Northeastern University. The software developed by Profs. Camps and Sznaier, along with their fellow researchers and students, uses airport security cameras to detect suspicious behavior by passengers. The article makes note of the high success rate and capabilities of the software, as it is currently in use at the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to detect passengers who try to enter secure areas of the airport through an exit lane.  

 

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Naval Academy Midshipmen Participate in ALERT Research
Summer 2015 at the University of Rhode Island 

Annapolis Naval Academy Midshipmen, Andrew Kelly and Gabe Lackey, are spending a month this summer doing ALERT research at the University of Rhode Island (URI), in Kingston, RI.  Andrew and Gabe are Systems Engineering majors and have elected to use this time to work with the URI Energetic Materials Research Group. Their work includes hands-on experience with explosives research at both the laboratory scale and in the field. Projects include using various instruments for physical characterization of both military explosives and homemade/improvised energetic materials. Of his experiences so far, Midshipman Lackey noted that, "It has been very interesting to see the 'behind the scenes' process that takes an idea and eventually lets it reach the front lines, helping sailors, marines, and all military men and women."  


TESSA02 Workshop Announced
August 5th, 2015, Northeastern University, Boston

ALERT is pleased to announce it will be hosting the Second "Trace Explosives Sampling for Security Applications" (TESSA02) Workshop, which will be held on August 5th, 2015 at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.  The title of the workshop will be "Fundamentals and Advances in Trace Sampling and Detection." The TESSA02 Workshop, held in 2014, was the first in the series to deal with the development of a roadmap for understanding contact sampling for trace explosives detection. The topic of contact sampling was chosen for the workshop in order to support the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) objective of improving the performance of existing technologies.

 

STUDENT & RESEARCHER OPPORTUNITIES
Pathways to Science 
Funding opportunities for STEM students  

The Institute for Broadening Participation (IBP) Pathways to Science project supports pathways to the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) by connecting students to programs such as REUs, graduate fellowships, and postdoctoral positions. Students can sign up online to automatically receive information on research, funding, and professional development opportunities customized to their interests.

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ALERT Core Partner Institutions

Northeastern University (lead)
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