George Mason University has been selected by the Department of Homeland Security to lead its Center of Excellence in Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis.
The 10-year, multimillion-dollar grant is among the largest research awards the university has received, with $3.85 million committed for its first year of operation.
Schar School faculty members Louise Shelley and Desmond Arias, as well as staff of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC), were among those leading the efforts to submit, and successfully win, the award. Under the grant, George Mason will lead a consortium of universities and law enforcement agencies to investigate patterns of criminal activities and forensics, and develop strategies to predict and disrupt transnational crime. Six schools within Mason collaborated to develop much of the proposal, with Professors Shelley and Arias among those in the lead. Dr. Shelley will serve on the leadership team for the project.
“We are honored by the confidence shown in our university and our extraordinary faculty by the Department of Homeland Security,” George Mason President Ángel Cabrera said. “This award highlights our commitment to multidisciplinary collaboration in areas of great societal consequence and our emergence as a top-tier research university.”
Matthew Clark, director of Homeland Security’s Office of University Programs, said Mason’s experience working with the security and intelligence communities, coupled with its strong criminology and sociology programs, “makes them a strong partner for the department.”
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established Centers of Excellence as a university-based system that works with operational agencies to solve complex and difficult problems.
“Mason is committed to elevating multidisciplinary research of significant societal impact,” Mason Provost S. David Wu said. "This project highlights our institutional commitment and our strengths in multifaceted security research. The Center of Excellence will bring together some of our best minds in the social and natural sciences, policy and engineering.”
The leadership team will consist of professor Anthony Stefanidis, who serves as director of the new Center of Excellence; University Professor Louise Shelley, director of the Schar School's Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center; Paulo Costa, associate professor of systems engineering and operations research; professor David Weisburd, executive director of Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy; Allison Redlich, professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society; Jim Jones, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and professor Mary Ellen O’Toole, director of Mason’s Forensic Science Program.
“This award is a true reflection of the Mason community’s commitment to advancing research of consequence and is made possible by the multidisciplinary strengths that we and our trusted partners bring to the center,” said Deborah Crawford, Mason’s vice president of research. “We look forward to working with our academic partners in the homeland security enterprise on this important topic for years to come.