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Student researches ties between terrorism and the Olympics

Tiara Giddings participates in Summer Research Initiative
As the start of the Summer Olympic Games approaches, terrorism may be the last thing on some viewers' minds. For Tiara Giddings, that's not the case. The 20-year-old psychology major at Spelman College is currently completing a research project on "Terrorism and the Olympics" as part of the College of Behavioral and Social Science's (BSOS) Summer Research Initiative Program. The Summer Research Initiative (SRI) offers students of underrepresented minority populations in the social, behavioral and economic sciences a chance to complete a research project within a field of interest.
SRI students pair with a mentor in a BSOS department. Tiara Giddings paricipates in BSOS's Summer Research Initiative Giddings is one of 12 students participating in SRI. The eight-week program also encourages the pursuit of graduate and doctoral studies in the behavioral, social and economic sciences. SRI provides workshops on the graduate school application process, building up resumes and curriculum vitas as well as other career-related seminars. For Giddings, this has been a valuable part of the program.
"If I had not participated in this program, I don't think I would have started looking into these processes," Giddings said. "It's nice to get an early start."
More of a direction
SRI also gave Giddings the chance to delve into research, something she did not have previous experience with. She first came across SRI through a web search of summer research programs.
"I had recently changed my major to psychology and was looking for more of a direction within the major," Giddings said.
Though her primary research interests are within mental health and family structure, her interest in criminology sparked her decision to work with the criminology department. Erin Miller and Gary LaFree of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) are Gidding's mentors for the summer. Her project examines how factors such as the media and heightened security affect the possibility of a terrorist attack at the upcoming Olympic Games.
"One of the goals of terrorists is to gain attention and a major event like the Olympics could provide the perfect opportunity to get the attention they desire which can result in an increase in terrorism," Giddings said of the project, "or terrorists may shy away to prevent from getting caught therefore decreasing terrorism."
Giddings and her mentors developed the project given the timely nature of the Olympics. Though Giddings did not have any prior research experience in terrorism studies, she said the project has been very interesting and has shaped her perspective. Giddings plans to pursue graduate studies within criminology and said her work with SRI and START has been a great starting point.
For more information about SRI and how to apply for summer 2013 click here.