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START Intern Develops Skills to Excel in Counterterrorism Research


Oved Lobel, Nuclear Security and Detection Project Intern 

My first task as an intern on the Nuclear Security and Detection Project at START was to memorize what “START” actually stood for, which was, admittedly, rather difficult. My experience since then has only grown more rewarding. I have learned so much through on-the-job tasks, and START’s energetic atmosphere makes it a joy to come into work.

Regarding the content of my project, I have learned a great deal of information, some of it nerve-wracking, about nuclear detection architecture, drug smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism, and the international organizations meant to control these things. And that’s just the beginning.

 I have also learned a slew of practical skills, such as navigating Excel data sheets. I’ve improved my research skills with new websites and databases that contain information not included in the official documents assigned to me. I will be able to use these databases for current and future research purposes.

The staff at START are indescribably friendly and geared toward helping interns succeed.  My supervisor, Gabrielle Matuzsan, has been tremendously patient and responsive to my questions and concerns, and I always have work to do. 

Thus far in my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to attend everything from networking events, to resume reviews, to computer software training. I also love the delicious, free coffee! This may be an unpaid internship, but the quality of the experience makes up for it. 

Outside of official project-related tasks, there are also enrichment sessions at START, which range from talks on various subjects by experts in the field, to training in things like GIS, Excel, and LinkedIn.

My favorite seminar to-date was a presentation on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) sources, weapons, and current detection systems. It provided basic background in the difference between these categories, as well as the different, easily accessible sources that could be used to create such weapons. In short, it was frightening, but enlightening. It also provided practical information that I could use throughout my research.

 Ultimately, I take pride in knowing that the project I am currently completing is helping the U.S. government’s global security initiative. I could not be more satisfied with the work I’m doing and the environment in which I am doing it.  


In furtherance of its educational and professional development mission, START invites its students to write about their research experiences with the Consortium.

This blog represents the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of START or any office or agency of the United States Government.