A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

START fosters a collaborative, multidisciplinary environment to create a team to meet the needs of the homeland security enterprise and train the next generation of scholars and practitioners. 

Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT): Project Leviathan - Spring 2018

Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT): Project Leviathan - Spring 2018

November 5, 2017
Semester Year: 


This research internship will support a project that analyzes the potential radiological and nuclear (RN) threats to the United States by non-state actors.  Project Leviathan integrates numerous adversary behavioral models and threat assessment tools into one system in order to assess the likely deterrent and deflective effects of various policies and investments on potential RN adversaries.  Under the supervision of the principal investigator and other project leadership and as part of multi-faceted project, interns will be able to partake in a variety of tasks throughout the semester-long internship.  As part of the adversary component of the project, a team of selected interns will conduct open source research to profile domestic and transnational criminal and extremist organizations, related to the potential trafficking of illicit radiological and/or nuclear material in the United States. Interns will research specific groups, write summaries of their activities, and identify new or emerging patterns of behavior relevant to national security.  For this component of the project, interns will also have the opportunity to participate in the threat analysis process by performing social science and geospatial coding.

As part of the threat assessment portion of Leviathan, interns will conduct out open-source research in support of the Future Attacks by Radiological and Nuclear Adversaries (FARNA) model. FARNA is a behavioral model that is designed to forecast adversary decisions on weapon and target selection and their probability of carrying out a successful attack. Interns will be briefed on this tool and will then focus on a particular sub-model within FARNA; tasking will include conducting background research, assisting with model refinement, and drafting reports on the theoretical justification and results. Interns will meet weekly with the Principal Investigator and project team to review findings, strengthen the model and improve writing skills for both academic and government audiences.

Supervisor: Daniel Smith (dsmith32@umd.edu)

Application deadline: Sunday, November 5, 2017; 11:59pm

Required/minimum qualifications 

  • Upper classmen with research experience
  • Strong writing skills; must pass brief analytical writing test as part of interview process
  • Must have proficiency with Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Must be able to dedicate 10 hours per week for the duration of the internship
  • Interest in both policy-oriented and academic publications.

Preferred/ideal qualifications 

  • Graduate students and PhD candidates are strongly preferred.
  • Strong background in statistics and probability through coursework or internship/jobs.
  • Knowledge of @Risk Software
  • Demonstrable superior writing skills, e.g. prior publication, writing tutoring, awards, etc.

General Information for all START Internships


START Headquarters is located at 8400 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD 20740. The building is adjacent to the University of Maryland, College Park campus. All internship hours must be completed at START HQ unless otherwise specified. Working remotely is not permitted.

Schedule Requirements:

Orientation Date: Monday, January 22, 2018. All interns are required to attend orientation. You may be required to attend an additional day of orientation on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Your supervisor will inform you if you are required to attend both days.
Internship Duration: Monday, January 22, 2018 to Friday, May 4, 2018. All interns must be able to commit to the duration of the whole program.
Work Hours: All interns must work at least 10 hours per week during the Spring 2018 program. Work hours are scheduled from Monday to Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm. Interns may not work longer than 8-hour shifts.

Other Information:

  • All internships are UNPAID and START is unable to provide travel stipends or housing arrangements.
  • We strongly encourage and recommend that interns seek academic credit for their internship through their home institution or department, if possible.
  • If undertaking the internship for credit, you must indicate this on your application form. Be sure to notify your internship supervisor if you need to work more than 10 hours per work for this reason.
  • Applicants interested in applying for an internship for any semester other than or in addition to Spring 2018, must submit a separate application for each semester with the correct application form for that semester.

How to Apply for START Internships:

START is currently accepting applications for Spring 2018. The application form will be open until Sunday, November 5, 2017 11:59pm. Late, incomplete, or applications not submitted correctly will not be considered. To access the application: click here.


  • Applicants must pay close attention to the requirements of each internship they are applying for, including attendance to team meetings and minimum time commitment. Inability to attend compulsory meetings or work the minimum required hours will result in the revocation of any offer made.
  • Address your cover letter to the internship supervisor of your first choice project.
  • Failure to complete the application form in full, including the selection of 1-3 internship preferences could result in your application being rejected without further consideration.
  • Failure to submit the proper materials according to the directions provided in the project description could result in your application being rejected without further consideration.
  • Due to the high volume of applicants, only top candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
  • Applicants may be asked to attend more than one interview.
  • Any successful candidate will be asked to respond with a firm acceptance within 24 hours of the offer being made. Failure to respond could result in the vacancy passed to another candidate.
  • Any questions regarding the specific requirements for the internship vacancy should be directed to the supervisor(s) listed for the project.
  • Any questions regarding the application process should be directed to the START Education Team at internships-start@umd.edu.

Application Materials:

All internship applicants must submit all materials in one .pdf file using the file name format:

LastName, FirstName_InternCandidate.pdf or .doc.

 The internship application packet should include the following documents in the following order:

  • One page cover letter
  • One page resume
  • Official or unofficial transcript(s)
  • Two-page writing sample (Communications applicants must submit two writing samples.)

Note for International Students:

START welcomes applications from international students for all of our internships where US citizenship is not a requirement (see the qualifications listed for each project for details).

It is, however, the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that their visa or immigration status permits them to undertake an unpaid internship. It is also the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all proper paperwork, like documented approval from your home institution, is available and processed in time for the start of the internship. Failure to comply with these stipulations, or provide the paperwork required to verify your status, will result in your internship offer being rescinded without further consideration. START is unable to sponsor visas for non-US Citizens due to the short timeline of our program and the lengthy processing time for visas. Unfortunately, this largely limits our ability to accept anything other than F-1 visas on regular, not OPT, status.