START has named Dr. Steve Sin the new director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology (UWT) team at START. A researcher at START since 2014, Sin has been instrumental in building UWT’s portfolio of projects that provide actionable knowledge about chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) and other emerging technological threats emanating from non-state actors.
Prior to joining START, Sin served in the U.S. army as an air defense artillery officer from 1995 to 1999, and as a military intelligence officer from 1999 to 2010. He then matriculated at the political science doctoral program at the University at Albany, SUNY. Sin’s primary research interests include illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear materials in addition to the use of the cyber domain by non-state actors.
“Steve brings a great combination of skill and character to the position. He’s a lifelong public servant with a knack for integrating different research methods to tackle complex, real-world problems,” said William Braniff, executive director of START.
Sin believes START’s UWT team fills a crucial role in terrorism research because the team conducts research on both weapons technology and human behavior associated with that technology.
“There is a lot of technical research being done in the government and private sectors about the technologies used by terrorists, but much of that lacks an important aspect of terrorism, how humans behave,” Sin said.
“However, we are looking at weapons and technology from the perspective of the terrorists and think about the who, what, where, why and how of weapons acquisition and use,” Sin said.
In addition to maintaining an innovative environment and the team’s close-knit collegiality, Sin hopes to streamline the UWT research portfolio, which is labor intensive in terms of data collection. He said he wants to incorporate more machine learning to harness the power of automated processing for data collection.
Sin succeeds Dr. Gary Ackerman, who was named a professor in the College of Emergency Preparedness, homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany, SUNY. Ackerman remains directly engaged in START research projects and serves as Senior Advisor to UWT.