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

In training the next generation of scholars and practitioners, START offers its students a chance to publish their work on this blog.

TRACKing my Experience at Maryland

TRACKing my Experience at Maryland

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alexa Squirini, TEVUS Project

I am a Government and Politics major at the University of Maryland and a member of the Big Ten Cross-Country and Track & Field teams. I first found out about START in the fall of my sophomore year, when an advisor suggested that I add a minor.

After doing some research, I discovered START’s global terrorism minor. I was also interested in taking START’s States of Emergency course (BSST334) with Dr. Izsak, but it didn’t fit into my schedule until spring 2015. I enrolled in the class and it quickly became one of my favorites. I realized that I might want to work in the field someday, so I applied for the global terrorism minor, which I was recently accepted to.

I wanted to jumpstart my understanding of the terrorism research field as early as possible and a summer internship with START seemed like the perfect opportunity for a hands-on experience.

My internship has only just begun, but since day one I have enjoyed the atmosphere at START. The staff and interns are all so friendly, and everyone is very passionate about their projects. On our first day of orientation, one of our ice breaker activities involved interns sharing their backgrounds. It was fascinating to learn that interns come from all over the country, and even internationally, to intern with START.

The opportunities here are endless, from the enrichment calendar, to educational pursuits, and writing blog posts! During orientation, we were told that an internship with START is not your typical “go get coffee” internship (interns can get themselves coffee if they want though- in the kitchen). Rather, staff members are focused on immersing interns in the world of terrorism research, and I believe that working at START will help me develop a more in-depth understanding of the field.

I’m working on START’s TEVUS project this summer, and some of my tasks include compiling a FAQ, user guide and tutorials to guide end users on how to navigate the TEVUS portal. I’m especially interested in the TEVUS project because the portal is expected to launch next year, and my role has a tangible impact on TEVUS’s completion. It’s cool to imagine people referring to guides and FAQs I created.

I’m also interested in TEVUS because of the way data is presented. TEVUS relies on four different datasets and makes use of spatial and relational graphs. I’ve never seen data illustrated in that manner before, and it’s exciting to see such a unique approach to presenting information.

In these first few weeks of my internship, I’ve also had the opportunity to sit in on meetings with my supervisor, Liberty Day. Observing a day-in-the-life of a researcher has helped me to understand the sort of projects and duties they are assigned.

In addition to my internship, I’ve signed up to participate in a two-week program with graduate students from Australia who are traveling to START headquarters. The chance to showcase our work for international students is just one example of the exciting opportunities at START.