Purdue University
Purdue University

HS-STEM Career Development Program

2008 Recipients

David Blunck – Mechanical Engineering

“I have the opportunity to have a sustained focus on a research topic with important implications for aircraft security as a recipient of a Department of Homeland Security Scholarship. Doors have been opened that will allow me to continue to research areas important to the missions of the Department of Homeland Security even after I graduate.” - David Blunck, September 2008
Advisor: Dr. Jay Gore
Research Description:David is studying the effect of nozzle geometry on the decay of the infrared signature of the exhaust from a gas turbine. It is hoped that advanced nozzle geometries will make is more difficult for terrorists to use heat seeking missiles to lock onto and destroy commercial aircraft. Currently, he has measured the radiation from an axisymmetric (circular) nozzle and is preparing to measure the radiation from another nozzle shape.

Karla Ann Combs – Biological Sciences

“Being a part of the HS-STEM Career Development Program has been an extraordinary experience. This program has allowed me to interact with professionals within homeland security and further my knowledge of all the possibilities a career within homeland security can bring.” - Karla Combs, September 2008
Advisor: Dr. Richard Kuhn
Research Description:Flaviviruses, single-stranded RNA viruses, such as yellow fever, Dengue and West Nile, are endemic throughout the world. Currently, effective therapeutics against these viruses are unavailable. One potential anti-viral target is the helicase, which resides in non-structural protein 3. Karla has been investigating the function of helicase helix 10 in the virus life cycle. From her research, this helix seems to have a function early in viral RNA replication and assembly of the infectious virus particle.

Laura Hughes-Baker – Biological Sciences

“The HS-STEM fellowship brings together scientists from many different disciplines giving me a much broader pool of knowledge that I can use when I need help solving problems. It has provided me with a network of scientists that I can utilize, making my research better. Additionally, once I graduate, I will already have a network in place to help me find the perfect job for me.” - Laura Hughes, September 2008
Advisor: Dr. David Sanders
Research Description:Laura’s research centers on the creation of an antibody against the Ebola virus glycoprotein receptor binding domain that could be used for potential therapeutic purposes, rapid infection identification, vaccine design, and to aid in crystallographic studies. Additionally, she is working on the identification of a cell line that is non-permissive to Ebola virus entry. This cell line will be used to test potential receptors. This will aid in designing therapeutic agents for treatment and elucidating the steps of virus entry.

Samuel Liles – Technology

“As a researcher and PhD student investigating the issues of cyber warfare and cyber terrorism, the community of colleagues within PHSI have supported and helped me immensely. As a working professional, the experience and opportunities afforded by PHSI have assisted me in bringing instant relevancy to my studies in the real world.” - Sam Liles, September 2008
Advisor:Dr. Mark Rogers
Research Description:Samuel researches cyber warfare as a form of low intensity conflict.

Ross Maciejewski – Electrical/Computer Engineering

“The HS-STEM Career Development Program provided me with the opportunity to work on a wide range of projects. Under the guidance of my HS-STEM mentor, I was able to further my research on disease outbreak monitoring and control and work on related applications in homeland security.”-Ross Maciejewski, September 2008
Advisor:Dr. David Ebert
Research Description:Ross’ current research focuses on applying visual analytics to aid in the analysis of real time decision making. This includes aiding epidemiologists and first responders while improving economic decision making. His work has focused on using coordinated animal-human health monitoring to provide an early warning system with fewer false alarms for naturally occurring disease outbreaks, biological attacks, and chemical attacks. In order to better understand these data sets, models and measurements at different resolutions must be analyzed. To facilitate these investigations, he has created an application to provide a visual analytics framework for analyzing both human emergency room data and veterinary hospital data. This integrated visual analytic tool links temporally varying geospatial visualization of animal and human health information with advanced statistical analysis of multi-source data. Various statistical analysis techniques have been applied in conjunction with a spatio-temporal viewing window. Users of this system can view health data and trends across space and time in both human and pet populations. One goal is to analyze the benefits of using veterinary data to enhance syndromic surveillance predictions. This work has been in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Georgia State Department of Health. Details of his research and related publications can be found on his website here.

Shawn McKay – Mechanical Engineering

“The HS-STEM opportunity is unlike other DOD and NHS fellowships. It provides an active link into the DHS community through outreach programs, conferences, and interaction with other students in the program.” - Shawn McKay, September 2008
Advisor:Dr. Doug Adams
Research Description:Many DHS problem domains can be considered system-of-systems, collection of interacting distributed, heterogeneous, independent, physical, and non-physical elements. Shawn’s research is focusing on how decision makers can anticipate and manage undesirable consequences in system-of-systems.

Bryan Sims – Nuclear Engineering

“The HS-STEM program has been terrific for networking within the homeland security field. Between organizing trips to meet leading scientists and engineers, providing information on DHS related coursework, and working with student organizations to provide additional learning resources to Purdue students the HS-STEM program has been a major contribution to the young professional I am today.”-Bryan Sims, September 2008
Advisor:Dr. Chan Choi
Research Description: