The University of Nebraska system has spent the last year creating partnerships with military and government agencies to offer research and hands-on opportunities for campus communities.
Some of the notable partnerships and projects created this semester include The Collaborative Biosecurity Laboratory, National Strategic Research Institute IRAD 2021, a $25 million contract for strategic deterrence and nuclear threat reduction support, and a new partnership between NU and the Department of Homeland Security.
While not all of the partnerships are through the National Security Research Institute at NU, many of them are. NSRI is a Department of Defense designated University Affiliated Research Center, according to their website.
“So although [NSRI] is only about 10 years old now, coming onto the scene to be a direct partner with the U.S. Strategic Command as a University Affiliated Research Center, that’s a special designation for which there are only 14 like it in the country,” NU President Ted Carter said.
The center offers opportunities for researching funding that directly impacts the country's national security, Katelyn Ideus, the director of communications and public relations for NSRI, said.
The Collaborative Biosecurity Laboratory opened this fall on East Campus and is a partnership between NSRI and the Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources. According to the press release from NSRI, the lab will increase research and development in agricultural and natural resources security, biological defense, biosurveillance and pandemic preparedness.
“The collaboration this could bring forward, the foresight we could bring forward to the [Department of Defense] in this space is really exciting,” Ideus said. “And so that’s really the purpose of that lab.”
Another major partnership that arose this semester was a $25 million contract given to NSRI from the National Nuclear Security Administration to support strategic deterrence and nuclear threat reduction efforts.
“This relationship is really so natural and enduring,” Christopher Yeaw, NSRI research director for nuclear programs, said in a video published by NSRI. “The number one mission for STRATCOM is strategic deterrence.”
Through this contract, NSRI “will provide nuclear weapon mission space and design parameters, iterative wargaming, warhead technical verification, policy research, wargaming knowledge management and more,” according to the release.
The NU system recently announced a new partnership with the Department of Homeland Security that aims to grow the DHS workforce. With this partnership, all four of the NU campuses will expand career support and experience opportunities in the areas of cybersecurity, intelligence, emergency management and law enforcement, according to an NU press release.
“This new memorandum of agreement with DHS is to help develop the future workforce for who's going to go into this critical space,” Carter said. “[It’s] very exciting to have this agreement, that we're going to work on curriculum and specific educational materials that will help develop the future workforce for the Department of Homeland Security.”
Carter believes UNL and the NU system is a great place for students and faculty interested in these fields. These partnerships, especially the one with the DHS, offer a unique opportunity for the four campuses to intertwine.
“We often talk about four campuses, but one university system, and this is a bright shining example of how that works together,” he said.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rick Evans, the NSRI executive director, said he looks forward to 2022 and the opportunities that are possible.
“As we look into 2022 I believe we will continue to deliver cutting edge research, while opening new opportunities for our student and faculty researchers,” he said in an email.