UNO students earn funding, internship from Homeland Security
July 29th, 2013
Omaha, NE â€“ The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded top honors to two University of Nebraska at Omaha students.
Quinn Guilds and Dan Harris have been recognized by the National Consortium for Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
Guilds, a graduate student in criminology and criminal justice, has received an internship this fall at the University of Maryland. He will work for the U.S. State Department analyzing information for the Global Terrorism Database.
â€œIt feels great,â€ Guilds said. â€œTo be able to put my application in and six weeks later and hear that they wanted to talk to me a little bit more or that they wanted to see what I was made of to do some research was awesome.â€
Harris is the first Nebraska student to receive the Terrorist Research Award. The $5,000 stipend will be used to conduct research and for traveling expenses to STARTâ€™s annual meeting next year. He will also be able to attend graduate courses at the University of Maryland through a scholarship provided by START.
Both students will conduct research in the area of terrorism with hopes that their findings could be used to prevent terrorist attacks.
â€œItâ€™s nice to be recognized for the amount of work that goes into planning a research proposal,â€ said Harris, a doctoral student in the industrial/organizational psychology program. â€œIt also feels really good as a researcher that out of hundreds of applicants I was only one of 10 to be chosen. Itâ€™s quite a nice feeling.â€
Harris is working alongside UNO professors Doug Derrick, assistant professor of IT development; Pete Simi, associate professor of criminology; and Gina Ligon, assistant professor of management. Â Harris will collect and analyze data of individuals who were once apart of terrorist groups to identify speech patterns that may signify a personâ€™s reasons for leaving an extremist group. He will use vocalic data to trace subjectâ€™s pitch and frequency based on different psychological variables.
â€œIâ€™m exploring how individuals who used to be part of extremists groups kind of frame who they used to be, how they used to be and how they currently are now,â€ Harris said.
Guilds said there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to acts of terrorism. What the public sees is only a glimpse, according to Guilds.
â€œTerrorism is not irrational,â€ Guilds said. â€œPeople see these events happen daily on the news and they say thatâ€™s a crazy person I canâ€™t believe that but something inside them motivated them to do that and changed their perception. Itâ€™s an upbringing against an oppressive force or itâ€™s for religious views or one of the thousand other motivations that are out there.â€
Harris most research on terrorism focuses on the beginnings of terrorism and they events that led up to a person becoming an extremist, but he thinks itâ€™s also important to look at the after effects.
â€œMy research is kind of focusing on the end game, but what about after the fact,â€Â Harris said. â€œWhat happens to individuals cognitively and emotionally after theyâ€™re out of that extremist group or ideology? Not much attention has been devoted to that and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m particularly interested in.â€
Guilds will be heading to the east coast for his internship August, while Harris will continue conducting research at the UNO campus.
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