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

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

START welcomes 109 students to spring internship cohort


START welcomes 109 students to spring internship cohort

More than 100 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 20 academic disciplines have come to conduct research at START this semester

January 25, 2019Erin Copland

There might still be snow on the ground but the spring semester is in full bloom at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), where more than 100 students began work on research projects on topics including radicalization, CBRN threats, terrorist tactics and international crises.

This cohort represents a nearly 40 percent increase in number of students since Fall 2018. These students come from a range of 24 academic disciplines, including criminology, economics, art history, geospatial intelligence, security policy and linguistics, and are from nine different institutions, including Georgetown University, American University, Marymount University and Howard University.

“We are really proud of our research agenda and we know that our data and findings help advance counterterrorism policy and practice, but nothing compares with helping to inspire students and being there when they realize ‘this is what I want to do for my career,’” said William Braniff, START’s director. “Every semester we engage with students who will go on to become scholars who care about national security issues, or national security professional who care about empirically-based policy and practice.”

Sixty-four of these interns will be doing research with 18 different projects at START, including the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and the suite of projects related to the Profiles of Individual Radicalization in the United States (PIRUS) dataset, which includes projects focusing on violent extremist networks and bias crimes. Other students will be working on a State Department project or three different projects with the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL).

A unique feature of the START internship program is that it is open to undergraduate and graduate students from universities all over the country, giving students a chance to network among a community of high-achieving peers and to work alongside the top researchers in their fields. In addition to completing project-focused work that provides practical experience, START interns participate in an extensive enrichment program that brings scholars and practitioners in to offer lectures, professional insights and career guidance.

The spring semester’s student cohort also includes 45 First-year Innovation and Research Experience (FIRE) students. The UMD’s FIRE program provides first-year students authentic research experience, broad mentorship and degree credit that impacts academic success, personal development, a strong sense of community and professional opportunity. It includes more than 15 research streams into which freshman students can enroll during the second semester of their freshman year. With a full incoming class this spring, START's Risk Communication and Resilience (RCR) research stream is comprised of 36 second-semester freshman students and nine FIRE Peer Mentors. The RCR stream is led by Faculty Advisor Dr. Brooke Liu, and Research Educator Dr. Emina Herovic.

This semester, FIRE students will be working on a project examining the effect of maps in campus emergency alert systems on risk perception, intended action and trust in message source. Students will also be working on a project examining the communication environment during ethnic conflict. START's FIRE students come from a variety of majors, including economics, government and politics, engineering, communication, finance and computer science.

Students interested in applying for an internship for summer 2019 should visit the START career opportunities internships page.