A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START intern profiles: June


START intern profiles: June

June 20, 2012
This summer, The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has a team of more than 60 interns. Three of these highly motivated students took the time to talk about their career ambitions, dream research destination and why they love Michael Phelps.

 

Patrick Stellmon is a graduate student working towards his M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies with an Arabic language focus at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College. He is currently working with Special Projects on the POICN Database and the EuroArch project, specifically on detection capabilities.

What Olympic event are you most excited to watch this summer and why?

I would have to say I am most excited to watch swimming, especially because it was so epic in 2008. I remember watching Phelps winning all those gold medals and the men's team barely winning the 4x100. I couldn't help but chant "U-S-A, U-S-A" in my head for days. Swimming is one of those sports that I would never follow outside of the Olympics, but when that time comes, I just can't get enough. However, I would be lying if I said I couldn't watch table tennis for hours on end.

What course have you taken that has had the biggest impact on your career ambitions?

The numerous courses I have taken in history, political science and security policy have all contributed to my desire to work with the federal government in the intelligence field, particularly those careers involving counter-terrorism. However, I don't think I would be where I am today without previously taking foreign language courses. My Arabic studies have taken me to some amazing places and allowed me to do some extraordinary things I would never be able to experience without those language skills.

Thanks to those experiences, I now know that a position with the federal government demanding Arabic language skills and regional cultural awareness is something I will continually to strive to obtain, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Patrick Stellmon

If you could do terrorism-related field research anywhere, what place (region/country/city) and why?

I would choose to live and research in Cairo, Egypt, without question. I spent a few months studying at The American University in Cairo (AUC) during my undergraduate studies and fell in love with the city, the region, and the culture. This was all before the Arab Spring, when swine flu was Egypt's biggest concern, not corruption and the pursuit of democracy.

I would love the opportunity to go back and see what kind of impact the Arab Spring has had on Egyptian society since my time in Cairo. With the Muslim Brotherhood gaining an unprecedented foothold in Egyptian politics, it will be interesting to see if their Western-perceived radical Islamic beliefs will manifest themselves in a way that might prove threatening to U.S. interests, either directly or indirectly.

Christina Hesse received her bachelor's in psychology at Mount Holyoke College and is currently in the master's program for Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. At START, she is an Advanced Research Intern for Special Projects and is working on a number of projects, including Pakistan Organized Crime, TCOTRN and PIRaNA.

What Olympic event are you most excited to watch this summer and why?

I'd have to say I am most excited to watch swimming this summer. I've never been a swimmer myself, but I've always been so impressed by the sport and how fast people move through the water (personally, I am still working on my doggy paddle). During the 2008 Olympics, I found myself shouting at Michael Phelps through my TV, pretending that my words of encouragement were really pushing him to swim faster. I look forward to making just as big of a scene this year.

Christina Hesse

What course have you taken that has had the biggest impact on your career ambitions?

During my first winter term in graduate school, I took a course titled "Counter-Terrorism Policy for Law Enforcement," and it was this course that made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in terrorism research. The course was originally designed for NYPD officers and it was their first time opening it to all graduate students. It was really interesting to see how counter-terrorism policy is presented to police officers who don't necessary have an academic background, and it opened my eyes to the reality of counter-terrorism policies.

Before this course, I never thought I would be interested in terrorism research, so I would definitely say that this course had the biggest impact on my career ambitions.

If you could do terrorism-related field research anywhere, what place (region/country/city) and why?

This is a hard question, but I'd have to say France. I've been working with a professor at John Jay on the radicalization process in prisons, and through this project I have become fascinated with the dynamic between Muslims and non-Muslims in the French prison system. I think it would be amazing to go to France and see firsthand why there are such a disproportionate number of Muslim inmates, why so many inmates convert to Islam and if this impacts prison radicalization.

Brianne Wain is an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University majoring in international politics and minoring in information sciences and technology. She is a Global Terrorism Database intern working on the geocoding project for Brandon Behlendorf.

What Olympic event are you most excited to watch this summer and why?

I am mostly looking forward to any of the swimming events, especially the 200 and 400 IM. I was a swimmer, so I always enjoy watching it.

Brianne Wain

What course have you taken that has had the biggest impact on your career ambitions?

A course that I have taken that has had the biggest impact on my career ambitions was an information sciences and technology class that I took at Penn State last fall called "Introduction to the Intelligence Community." We learned about many of the US government agencies in the IC and did counterterrorism simulations, which was really interesting. It definitely has helped me get a better idea of what I would like to do for a career after graduation.

If you could do terrorism-related field research anywhere, what place (region/country/city) and why?

If I could do terrorism related field research anywhere, I would probably say somewhere in Nicaragua because that is the country I am working on this summer for the geocoding project.

 

 

 

Jesus Roman is a student at Northwestern University majoring in political science and minoring in French and business institutions. He is working on the Central American and Caribbean Trafficking project as well as the TCOTRN project.

What Olympic event are you most excited to watch this summer and why?

The image of Michael Phelps winning every race I saw him in at the last Olympics is still burned into my mind. I'm really looking forward to all the swimming events. Even though I have never been a big fan of swimming, I'm still looking forward to seeing the races.

Jesus Roman

What course have you taken that has had the biggest impact on your career ambitions?

The course that has had the biggest impact on my career ambitions is a course titled "Democratic Transitions". We discussed a variety of theories about democratization and utilized them to analyze both past and contemporary cases. The best part might have been being able to discuss the Arab Spring and its effects as it was actually happening. This reinforced my interest in international affairs and the study of the rise and fall of both democratic and authoritarian regimes.

I think it was the combination of a great professor and a great subject that led me to realize that I would want to dedicate some time, hopefully in the Department of State, to study and work in some of the countries that I've read about.

If you could do terrorism-related field research anywhere, what place (region/country/city) and why?

If I could do terrorism-related field research anywhere, I would like to do it somewhere in Latin America because I do have family still in Mexico, so it hits close to home. Having recently taken a politics of Latin America course and studying the history of a variety of countries, I would love to live and do field research in either Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, or Venezuela.