News & Events
ALERT Renames the ADSA workshops August 13, 2014
We are pleased to announce the renaming of the ADSA workshops from “Algorithm Development for Security Applications” to “Advanced Development for Security Applications.” This change reflects the fact that the scope of these workshops has expanded well beyond algorithms as the series has progressed.
For example, the following topics for development are now being addressed in these workshops: energy sources (e.g., X-ray, neutrons), sensors (e.g., photon counting X-ray detectors, trace), concept of operations, hardening, deterrence, simulants and testing. The acronym for the workshops, ADSA, will remain the same.
The Eleventh ADSA Workshop (ADSA11) has been scheduled for November 4th and 5th at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. The title of the workshop will be “Explosive Detection in Cargo for Aviation Security – Part II.”
Welcome ALERT Summer REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Participants! June 2, 2014
ALERT is excited to welcome our Summer 2014 REU Participants, as the program has officially starts June 2nd, 2014. Five ALERT REU participants will be working at Northeastern University this summer with Prof. Carey Rappaport, Prof. Jose Martinez, and Mr. Richard Moore. One student will be working at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez with Prof. Samuel Hernandez. Participants are not only involved in ALERT research, but take part in educational and professional development activities, including giving a final research presentation at the end of the summer.
Welcome, ALERT REUs!
[Photo (l-r): Prof. Jose Martinez, REU Students: Yeehin Li (NU) and Mohit Bhardwaj (NU) and Abeco Rwakabuba (MCC '14).]
RI Senator Jack Reed Visits ALERT at URI February 25, 2014
FROM URI NEWS, KINGSTON, RI – February, 25, 2014 — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed met Monday with University of Rhode Island professors from chemistry, engineering and cyber security to see firsthand some of the leading research they are conducting on explosives, explosives detection, and cyber security, and discuss efforts to strengthen URI’s role in physical and cyber security study.
During a campus tour yesterday with Gerald Sonnenfeld, URI vice president for research and economic development; Jimmie Oxley, URI professor of chemistry and director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Explosives, Detection, Mitigation, and Response at the University of Rhode Island; Otto Gregory, URI distinguished professor of engineering and co-director of the Sensors and Surface Technology Partnership; Lisa DiPippo, associate professor of computer science and the academic director of the Cyber Security Program at URI; Alan Davis of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport; and URI students, Reed observed demonstrations of some of the work URI is doing to improve security, detect explosives and neutralize their impact, and strengthen the nation’s cyber security capabilities.
[Photo Credit: URI Photos by Michael Salerno Photography.]Read More
VAST program featured on fedscoop.com February 14, 2014
ALERT Phase 2 is Launched! November 18, 2013
On Tuesday, October 22, ALERT hosted representatives from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate for a ceremony to launch its second phase of funding. In ALERT’s next 5 years, Northeastern University takes the lead, strategically partnered with Boston University, Purdue University and the University of Rhode Island to carry out its mission to develop effective response to explosives-related threats.
Representing Northeastern University, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Stephen Director started out the ceremony expressing his happiness to continue the relationships with the core partner universities and welcomes working with new partners like Purdue University. He mentioned that the work done at ALERT which is translational and used directly in the field, exists in Pasteur’s Quadrant – it seeks to understand fundamental science while also being beneficial to society. He then handed off the microphone to Department of Homeland Security Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Daniel Gerstein.
Gerstein recognized ALERT Director, Michael Silevitch and ALERT Phase 1 Co-Director Jimmie Oxley for their award, stating that another 5 years of funding was validation for the work that has gone on at the Center. He noted that ALERT is a consortium that creates innovation through basic research and is constantly trying to work together to fix today’s problems. Gerstein was followed up by Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate Office of University Programs Director, Matt Clark, who asked that the universities keep supporting ALERT, highlighting that it’s the partnerships that actually make a change.
Statements by the officials were followed up by brief comments by leadership of each of the core universities who all stated their optimistic vision for the next 5 years. Representatives included University of Rhode Island Vice President for Research and Economic Development, Gerald Sonnenfeld, Boston University Vice President and Associate Provost for Research, Gloria Waters, and a letter sent by Purdue University Vice President for Research, Richard Buckius.
The ALERT team looks forward to the new partnership and another successful 5 years as a Center of Excellence. ALERT’s next phase will also include partnering with other Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence as it works to carry out its mission.
ALERT is Now Active on Twitter November 17, 2013
We are pleased to announce that we are now active on Twitter! This is a new and exciting way for us to deliver information to you that is relevant to the ALERT mission. Feel free to follow us at @ALERTCOE, and tweet any information that you feel is relevant to us. We’ll be happy to look it over and re-tweet it if appropriate.
Research aims to reduce security threats from explosives October 1, 2013
Photo at Right: Purdue doctoral student David Kittell, at left, and graduate student Peter Renslow perform an experiment to study homemade explosives as part of a national effort to protect against terrorist attacks. Purdue researchers are participating in the Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats center (ALERT). (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)Read More
TSA Federal Security Director Michael Young honors ALERT August 28, 2013
On Wednesday, August 28, ALERT researchers and personnel were honored with the presentation of an award by Ohio Transportation Security Administration Federal Security Director, Michael Young for ALERT’s efforts in the Video Analytic Surveillance Transition (VAST) project. The presentation, followed by a luncheon, was also attended by the Northeastern University Senior Vice Provost, Mel Bernstein, the Dean of Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, Nadine Aubry, and TSA Program Analyst, Edward Hertelendy.
ALERT’s VAST project, conducted in partnership with Siemens Corporate Research, TSA and Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) is developing video analytics methods at CLE to address existing airport security concerns. As explained by ALERT director Michael Silevitch, “the ability to access real time data from the Cleveland airport enabled the ALERT researchers to test their methods and optimize performance. That, coupled with the collaboration of our industrial partner Siemens, was essential in terms of developing tools that would be of practical use to people in the field.”
Taking a moment to recognize the partnership between ALERT and the TSA, Dean Aubry expressed that ALERT is a model center to the College of Engineering. “We are really proud to be able to do user inspired research, but the challenge is to take that research and to apply technology transfer in order to really make an impact on society and the security of our airports, and that’s what you are doing”. In her closing remarks the Dean emphasized the value of the collaboration for both academia and industry.
Senior Vice Provost Bernstein reminded the attendees that the award ALERT was being honored with was not only an award about the outstanding work being done, but also for the commitment to the mission of advancement for the common good. “The model program between ALERT and the Cleveland airport is really quite impressive,” he said. “The fact is that this may not have been the easiest thing to do, but it really speaks to the opportunity, talent, the willingness of the Northeastern side, and the understanding that TSA has to be able to make this kind of investment. This is really what we had hoped would happen in the early days of DHS, and this is one great example”.
Michael Young, while presenting the award to the ALERT team, mentioned the recent successes of the VAST partnership, and the notability of the project through both industry and academia. He briefly explained his history with the ALERT Center of Excellence and noted that this award is really about collaboration. The award states on it, “In recognition of your technological research and innovation in support of TSA-Cleveland in the development of advanced algorithms for CCTV Surveillance Systems”. Director Young then proceeded to present the ALERT team with TSA Challenge Coins to show appreciation and recognize the work and support of each individual team member.
This award reflects ALERT’s ability to make a positive impact on critical problems faced by the Homeland Security Enterprise. ALERT looks forward to continuing this valuable partnership with the Transportation Security Administration through years to come.
Banner and Side Bar Photo Credit: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo
Northeastern University Selected to Lead Renewed Explosives Research Center of Excellence August 14, 2013
DHS S&T Press Office – Press Release, August 14, 2012
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate announced today the selection of Northeastern University’s Center for Awareness and Location of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) to lead a renewed DHS Center of Excellence (COE) for Explosives Research. S&T will provide ALERT with a $2.5 million grant for the first of five years.
“ALERT already has contributed substantially to the security of the United States through a top-notch explosives research and education program,” said Matthew Clark, Director of S&T’s Office of University Programs (OUP), which manages the COE system. “ALERT meets DHS’s high standards for scientific quality, and demonstrates readiness and ability to engage with DHS to solve real-world security problems.”
S&T selected the Northeastern-led team through an open call for proposals and a rigorous competitive process, marking the second time Northeastern and its partners have won this distinction. Under the leadership of Northeastern and the University of Rhode Island, the new ALERT COE will expand efforts initiated in 2008 by the existing Center. The renewed ALERT will collaborate with DHS S&T, DHS operational components, industrial partners, and other COEs to help the United States detect and defeat explosives threats. ALERT will also develop relevant educational curricula for both university students and mid-career professionals.
The DHS COEs were established by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to be a “coordinated, university-based system to enhance the Nation’s homeland security.” S&T’s COEs are a well-integrated network of researchers focused on specific high-priority DHS challenges and work directly with DHS operational agencies to solve complex and difficult security problems.
For more information about OUP and the COEs, please visit www.dhs.gov/st-oup.Read More
Summer REU Program is underway at ALERT July 23, 2013
The ALERT Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) 2013 summer program is currently hosting 9 exceptional undergraduate students at Northeastern University, and ALERT partner institutions. Prof. Carey Rappaport, Prof. Jose Martinez-Lorenzo, and Mr. Richard Moore, are working with the five ALERT REU students at Northeastern University. Two students are working with Profs. Brandon Weeks and Louisa Hope-Weeks at Texas Tech University, and two students are working with Prof. Samuel Hernandez at the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez.
The summer program, which runs for 10-weeks from June 3rd – August 9th , provides students with full-time work experience on ALERT research, as well as meetings and activities geared to enhance professional development. A few of the students working at NEU begin their involvement in ALERT research through the ALERT Scholars program, which provides freshmen undergraduates an introduction and gateway to engineering research on campus during the spring semester.
Rachel Shaffer, an REU student working with Mr. Moore, began her work with him on Video Analytics through the spring 2013 ALERT Scholars program. She has become an integral part of his research team, and provided a demonstrated of some of their work during TSA Administrator, John Pistole’s lab visit on June 12th.
At the end of the program, the REU students will give presentations on their research projects. Students at Texas Tech University and University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez will present to the group online on August 6th, and Northeastern University students will present on August 8th from 9:00am – 1:00pm EST in room 378 in 140 The Fenway.