California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) has been awarded a portion of an $8.9 million Scientific Leadership Award (SLA) grant from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate. CSUDH was one of eight Minority Serving Institutions nationally to be included in the grant, and joined CSU Northridge as one of only two in California.
CSUDH will receive $1 million over the five-year length of the grant for their program Securing the Future of Los Angeles: CSUDH Homeland Security Initiative, which will launch the Homeland Security Initiative at CSUDH. The initiative aims to build the university’s capacity in interdisciplinary research, education, and workforce development for Homeland Security Enterprises (HSE).
The initiative has three major goals: to recruit and support students towards completing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) or Homeland Security-related degrees through improved, relevant curricula, experiential learning, and integrated research; to build research capacity in HSE topics at CSUDH through supporting innovative, interdisciplinary research projects and funding development; and to develop a diverse and qualified workforce that is ready for future security challenges, especially in the Los Angeles region.
Qiyuan Jin, assistant professor of public administration and the principal investigator for the grant said, “HSE requires a diverse, competent workforce that specializes in areas such as counterterrorism, border security, cyber security, supply chain management, and disaster management. This challenge is particularly salient in the L.A. and Southern California region, where we have critical security challenges in areas such as international trade, immigration, and transportation.”
“As a Minority Serving Institution, our university can play a critical role in training a qualified and more diverse homeland security workforce by creating evidence-based education and career pathways from community college to our campus, and also potentially to advanced degrees and then on to successful careers.”
The grant will help CSUDH create new courses and adapt existing coursework to focus on the STEM-related goals of the project. The university will also partner with local community institutions on the project, including working with community colleges to recruit interested students.
The grant team proposed numerous impactful interdisciplinary research projects, which cover topics including cybersecurity, maritime security, supply chain disruption, systems engineering, disaster management, counterterrorism, and social media analytics. CSUDH will also work with the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Threats and Emergencies (CREATE) at the University of Southern California on collaborative research projects and joint research events to support experiential learning.
The SLA grant will provide Toro students with a wide range of additional education, research, and career development opportunities such as SLA Scholarships, research assistants, internship programs, and mentorship programs. In addition, the university will team with local partners such as the South Bay Workforce Investment Board, Los Angeles International Airport, Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County to create internships and professional development and networking events, providing career pathways for Toro students.
“The Department of Homeland Security firmly believes that STEM innovation allows us to solve the complex challenges of today and make a difference in how we secure and protect our country into the future,” said DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “We are proud to partner with minority serving academic institutions to conduct Homeland Security research and find innovative ways to execute the DHS mission.”
“The Scientific Leadership Award grants are critical investments in protecting the nation from future threats, and we are proud to support the work of these outstanding institutions,” said Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “We believe that by partnering with these institutions, we can bring fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to the field, and ultimately make our country safer and more secure.”
“The DHS’s Science and Technology Directorate offers very well-regarded research opportunities to institutions of higher learning, often centering on collaborations and partnerships with DHS-sponsored Centers of Excellence,” said Gus Martin, professor of criminal justice administration and Director of the CSUDH School of Public Service and Justice. “Within this context, the grant represents the recognition by the directorate of the professional excellence of CSUDH faculty. The contribution to regional policy will be significant.”
For Jin, the grant aligns perfectly with CSUDH’s mission of student success. “This program will help our students better prepare for future challenges in homeland security and related fields,” he said. “Our university is all about providing opportunities and social mobility for students from traditionally underserved communities. This grant is a perfect opportunity to further our mission and also deepen our impact in the community.”