Initiative Four: Securing the Safety of the Future

The threats of terrorism and natural disasters are an unfortunate reality, are not likely to abate, and may grow worse.  The nation’s security is threatened, and UTD has an opportunity and responsibility to contribute to ensuring the safety of the nation’s citizens and of people throughout the world, not only through new technology and new knowledge, but also by promoting global awareness in the curriculum.

Action 4.1: National and Global Security

Today the threats of terrorism and natural disasters are no longer threats—they are reality.  UTD has a responsibility to contribute to ensuring the safety of the nation’s citizens and of people throughout the world.  UTD already has excellent programs in information security, and the faculty in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics are ideally situated to make major contributions in the areas of bio-threats (neurotoxins, bacterial toxins, and pathogens) and chemical threats (gas analysis and separation).  The Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, with its strengths in Geospatial Information Science and Criminal Justice, has developed strong transdisciplinary programs at the interface with psychology and economics as well as geophysics and computer science that will contribute greatly to this initiative, and the faculty in Economic, Political and Policy Sciences are teaming with faculty across UTD, especially in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, to understand the risks that the nation faces by using game theory and by examining the links between individual choices and the behavior of complex systems.  The Physics and Geosciences programs in Natural Sciences and Mathematics, in particular the Center for Space Sciences, have additional expertise that can assist in understanding and abating impacts of natural disasters, such as hurricane impacts.  The CyberSecurity and Emergency Preparedness Institute provides a focus on secure information systems, and the International Center for Decision and Risk Analysis offers a global perspective on risk management.  Finally, the School of Engineering and Computer Science’s research programs in cyber security, telecommunications, and space and satellite technologies are crucial to UTD’s effort to secure the future.  By coordinating existing efforts and by placing high priority on research and education regarding the effects of continued globalization, UTD will make a significant advance in preparing students who will make the nation and the world a safer place to live.

Action 4.2: Energy and the Environment

The world’s growing population and escalating development are creating unprecedented demands for energy.  The threats to the environment are substantial and are driven increasingly by concerns about global climate change, creating new demands for scientifically credible research to understand the complexities of these interactions and to search for solutions that will provide the energy the nation needs while protecting the environment.  The threat to the nation from the possibility of energy shortages, or from adverse environmental impacts related to energy choices, is substantial.  The nation must assure reasonable energy supply and security to ensure its overall security.  The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics has been home to important programs in geosciences and atmospheric sciences, and the Center for Space Sciences receives a constant influx of data about atmospheric weather and other atmospheric events from the orbiting instruments the Center’s faculty have built.  Emerging programs in the School of Engineering and Computer Science will provide strengths in addressing energy efficient materials and systems.  Public policy issues such as those addressed in the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences are a key facet to addressing the complex issues of energy and environment.  UTD will establish itself in a leadership position in this increasingly complicated and important intersection of energy and environment.


Updated: May 1, 2012