North­eastern held a formal opening cer­e­mony on Thursday for the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute for Home­land Secu­rity at the University’s Burlington, Mass., campus. The secure, state-of-the-art research facility, funded by a $12 mil­lion invest­ment from alumnus George J. Kostas, E’43, H’07, is crit­ical to advancing Northeastern’s lead­er­ship in secu­rity research.

“The work of the Kostas Insti­tute will be pro­foundly impor­tant to North­eastern and to our nation,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “It will bring together our best minds to solve one of our greatest chal­lenges, and will leave a legacy that the Kostas family and North­eastern can be proud of.”

Kostas and his wife, Lea, joined Pres­i­dent Aoun for the cer­e­mony Thursday morning. Kostas thanked North­eastern for, in his words, making his dream a reality, and praised the researchers whose secu­rity projects aim to keep the United States a free and pro­tected nation.

“My wife and I believe America offers the best system for the devel­op­ment of human poten­tial and the best incu­bator to con­tribute to the world,” Kostas said.

Throughout the day’s events, North­eastern leaders lauded Kostas as a visionary for his com­mit­ment to estab­lishing the insti­tute, which will present North­eastern with unprece­dented oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve national secu­rity through trans­la­tional, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research.

“You invested in us, you believed in us and our pledge is very simple: we are going to honor your con­fi­dence now and for­ever,” Pres­i­dent Aoun told Kostas.

“Dr. George Kostas is a pio­neer at the fron­tiers of sci­ence and engi­neering, and his patri­o­tism for our nation and his unwa­vering com­mit­ment to his alma mater is making all of this pos­sible,” said Sy Stern­berg, chairman of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees.

The Uni­ver­sity also announced the appoint­ment of the Kostas Institute’s codi­rec­tors, Peter Boynton and Dr. Stephen Flynn. Boynton, former com­mis­sioner of the Con­necticut Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Home­land Secu­rity, and Flynn, pres­i­dent of the Center for National Policy in Wash­ington, D.C., will pro­vide strong lead­er­ship to address crit­ical home­land secu­rity chal­lenges through use-inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research under­taken at the institute.

North­eastern has a strong port­folio of research ini­tia­tives built around secu­rity. In 2008, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity (DHS) selected North­eastern as one of 11 uni­ver­si­ties nation­wide for a DHS Center of Excel­lence. The $10 mil­lion grant estab­lished the Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT) center at North­eastern. Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Research Center in Nahant, Mass., is devel­oping robotic tech­nology to detect under­water mines and other coastal threats.

Designed in accor­dance with U.S. Depart­ment of Defense stan­dards, the 70,000-square-foot Kostas Insti­tute will give North­eastern the capacity and clear­ances to con­duct secure research in a restricted envi­ron­ment in areas ranging from cyber secu­rity to explo­sives detec­tion, mit­i­ga­tion and response to terror attacks.

The insti­tute is equipped to test new secu­rity tech­nolo­gies in a con­trolled envi­ron­ment and eval­uate its via­bility for addressing real-world secu­rity needs.

On Thursday after­noon, North­eastern researchers offered a pre­view of the inno­v­a­tive work set to begin at the insti­tute, with pre­sen­ta­tions in areas such as explo­sives detec­tion, cyber secu­rity, video tracking via unmanned drones and struc­tural testing for resilient and sus­tain­able systems.

“Our inten­tion here is to create a dif­ferent national model, a model that will allow us to cap­ture the best of what goes on in basic research from fac­ulty and stu­dents and trans­late it to crit­ical prob­lems in secu­rity here at this facility,” said Mel Bern­stein, Northeastern’s senior vice provost for research.

“This is truly a new chapter in the his­tory of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, in which we’ll make great strides in secu­rity research, a crit­ical domain in the 21st cen­tury and one that will engage our efforts across the Uni­ver­sity,” said David Luzzi, dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering.

The Uni­ver­sity announced last week that Luzzi would serve as exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Strategic Secu­rity Ini­tia­tive. Luzzi, who is con­cluding his tenure as dean, will work closely with the codi­rec­tors of the Kostas Insti­tute and with Uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship and fac­ulty to fur­ther develop the University’s secu­rity initiatives.

Research at the insti­tute will also incor­po­rate a strong inter­dis­ci­pli­nary ele­ment, given that national secu­rity solu­tions span numerous areas such as engi­neering, com­puter sci­ence, health sci­ences and the social sciences.

The codi­rec­tors will be instru­mental in leading the insti­tute to serve as a resource for industry and for gov­ern­ment at the fed­eral, state and local levels. The research activ­i­ties under­taken at the facility will be sup­ported through exter­nally funded projects involving private-public mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary research teams working on home­land security-related challenges.

Peter Boynton was most recently com­mis­sioner of the Con­necticut Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Home­land Secu­rity. He brings expe­ri­ence across all levels of gov­ern­ment and major func­tional areas of home­land secu­rity. He has held lead­er­ship posi­tions in port secu­rity as a Coast Guard Cap­tain of the Port and in avi­a­tion secu­rity as a TSA fed­eral secu­rity director. He also brings national expe­ri­ence as a former director on the White House National Secu­rity Council staff and at the U.S. Depart­ment of State.

Dr. Stephen Flynn comes to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity from the Center for National Policy in Wash­ington, DC where he has been Pres­i­dent after spending a decade as a Senior Fellow for National Secu­rity Studies at the Council on For­eign Rela­tions. The author of sev­eral of the leading books and arti­cles on home­land secu­rity, he is a fre­quent expert wit­ness before U.S. Con­gress, and one of the nation’s fore­most author­i­ties on and pro­po­nents of resilience as a secu­rity and soci­etal imper­a­tive. He has served in the White House as a part of the National Secu­rity Council staff and was a part of the Obama Pres­i­den­tial Tran­si­tion Team.