Terrorism, Natural Disasters the Focus of Coles Research Symposium

KENNESAW, Ga. (Nov 2, 2018) — With threats from natural disasters, cybercriminals, and terrorism dominating the headlines, the Michael J. Coles College of Business recently held a symposium that highlighted faculty and student research into how governments around the world can make their residents safer.

The Coles Research Symposium on Homeland Security was held Oct. 11 in Prillaman Hall. Faculty from major research universities across the country joined their peers from Kennesaw State University to share their work and discuss perspectives on improving global security.

Coles Research Symposium on Homeland Security

“I see research as a way to make improvements in the world,” says Dr. Jomon Paul, director of research for the Coles College of Business and the symposium’s chief organizer. “When you develop new ways to solve problems, it creates new ways of learning. It also improves our ability to use resources more effectively, and it makes our nation safer.”

Paul, along with economics professor Dr. Aniruddha Bagchi, was inspired to organize the summit when he noticed that several faculty across Coles College were conducting research on topics like disaster planning, medical supply repositioning, securing airports or seaports, and other homeland security issues. He was also impressed by the behavioral and technological cybersecurity research being done by students in the College of Computing and Software Engineering.

The symposium was Paul’s opportunity to showcase topical research while also building bridges between colleges and departments at Kennesaw State and between Kennesaw State University and other institutions. Paul invited some of the most prominent homeland security researchers in the country to present at the event.

“I was really pleased with the high quality of the presentations, as well as with the diversity of disciplines and viewpoints represented,” says Dr. Vicki Bier, professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering and the Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bier has made a name for herself studying how organizations and countries can use game theory to better understand their adversaries and protect their systems from attack.

Dr. Richard John, Associate Director of Strategic Planning and Transitions at the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis, presented on the difficulty of identifying whether an individual could potentially be a terrorist. He found participating in the symposium particularly rewarding.

“I attend many events related to homeland security research every year,” he says, “and the KSU symposium was the most useful I’ve had the pleasure of attending.”

In addition to the faculty research on display, the symposium included a poster session featuring four research projects conducted by Kennesaw State students, most of them enrolled in master’s and PhD programs. One of the students recently earned a Doctor of Business Administration from Coles College.

Coles Research Symposium on Homeland Security

Student projects covered a wide range of homeland security issues, including how economic factors like GDP and food security influence terrorism, how organizations should develop cybersecurity policies, methods for protecting mobile devices from remote attack, and vulnerabilities arising from the growth of “internet of things” technologies.

Dr. Tim Mathews, Kennesaw State economics professor and director of the Bagwell Center for the Study of Markets and Economic Opportunity, served as faculty advisor on one of the student poster sessions. He said the quality of all the students’ work was exemplary

“It was inspiring to see our students showcase their research accomplishments,” he says. “It reminded me once again of the power and responsibility we have as faculty in molding the future.”  

Paul says it was very important from the planning stages that the symposium include student presentations.

“I see this as a way to encourage students at the undergraduate level,” he says. “When they see successful events like this, I like to think it triggers an interest in the possibilities for their own futures in academia.”

The Coles Research Symposium on Homeland Security accomplished all the goals Paul set out for the event, including highlighting Kennesaw State faculty and student research, building partnerships with other leading research institutions, and furthering academic understanding of national and international security issues. Paul also published a special issue of the Coles College Working Paper Series featuring faculty research on homeland security issues.

"The threats we face as a nation are constantly evolving and range from critical infrastructure protection, and counterterrorism to emergency response and cybersecurity,” he says. “Such a well-intentioned conversation among academics and practitioners about novel ways of addressing such profound challenges is key in securing the nation from such grave dangers."

- Patrick Harbin