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DHS Secretary Ridge Welcomes New Security Fellows
"Have faith and have fun," U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Tom Ridge said November 17 at AAAS, as he welcomed the first 100 young scientists and engineers to be approved as Homeland Security Scholars and Fellows. "You will make an enormous contribution."
The first class of DHS scholars and fellows, who will stay on their respective campuses through the academic school year, were selected from a pool of 2,500 applicants.
Charles McQueary, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, said he expects the initiative to grow to include 200 scholars and fellows next year. Thus, within the next 10 years, an estimated 2,000 outstanding scientists and engineers will participate in the DHS program. In this way, he said, DHS hopes to achieve "technological refresh," by attracting the best and brightest researchers to study and work in areas related to homeland security.
"I was struck, when I walked in the front door [of AAAS] by the level of communication and interaction that I saw," McQueary said at the AAAS gathering, which took place 203 years to the day after the U.S. Congress held its first session in the partially completed Capitol building in Washington, on November 17, 1800. "It is the human interaction of people, one with another, that is the real strength of this country … You have an opportunity now to maintain those relationships."
Improved public safety depends upon the integration of the efforts of scientists with those of educators, business leaders, firefighters, policymakers and many others, Ridge emphasized. He also commented that America must "remain an open, welcoming and diverse country," even in the face of heightened public safety concerns. He described the country's color-coded, terror alert system as "a good system," but subject to refinement.
Roughly 90 percent of all research conducted under the auspices of the DHS will be "applicationsnow," or investigations with near-term, practical and applied results, McQueary reported. Another 10 percent of all DHS research, representing about $100 million worth of work, will be directed toward longer-term outcomes. Through new university-based Homeland Security Centers of Excellence, DHS will seek to involve researchers in the physical, biological, social and behavioral sciences, as well as engineering, mathematics and computer science, McQueary and others said.
This year marked the first year of another fellowship program to encourage the study of science that focuses on security issues. The AAAS Homeland Security Fellowship program at DHS is the latest addition to the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows Program, which now comprises 10 fellowship programs. September 2003 marked 30 years since AAAS launched its first fellowship programa solution to two problems: the dearth of objective science policy advice for U.S. federal lawmakers, and the need for training in policymaking for members of the nation's scientific community.
Over the years, more than 1,600 scientists and engineers have thus far engaged in the fierce competition to become AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellows. The AAAS program brings postdoctoral to mid-careers scientists to Washington, DC, to work for one year in public policy in the Congress and a dozen federal agencies.
In April of 2003, at the AAAS Science & Technology Policy Colloquium, Under Secretary Charles McQueary said: "I'm looking forward to working with the (AAAS) fellows joining the DHS."
For more information on the AAAS Homeland Security Fellows, please visit: fellowships.aaas.org/dhs.
Monica Amarelo and Ginger Pinholster
18 November 2003