Just four years after it was established, the University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute is exceeding federal metrics for growth, positioning the state to be a leader in conducting research that advances national security and defense.
In a recent report to the NU Board of Regents on NSRI’s early success, founding executive director Lt. Gen. Robert Hinson (Ret.) said that the university-wide institute has attracted $39 million in contract awards since it was created in 2012, with another $5 million expected by the end of the year. Federally established growth metrics for University-Affiliated Research Centers, of which NSRI is one of only 13 nationally, call for at least $6 million in contracts per year.
The contracts support NU research aligned with the mission of the United States Strategic Command to combat weapons of mass destruction, as well as other areas critical to national security, including fighting infectious disease, defeating terrorism and protecting men and women in uniform. More than 40 faculty and 60 students in multiple disciplines across the NU campuses have engaged with NSRI, resulting in new partnerships with other universities and federal agencies.
As it approaches an anticipated five-year contract renewal with the U.S. Department of Defense next year, Hinson said, NSRI is well-positioned for its next phase of growth.
“From the outset, the University of Nebraska has committed to the vision of bringing together the strengths of an entire university system to tackle the most urgent challenges affecting national security,” Hinson said. “These challenges aren’t going away. Our work is complex and demanding. But thanks to talented faculty, staff and students across the university’s campuses, I believe continued growth and success is ahead. Nebraskans can be proud of the work we are doing to make our state and country safer.”
NU President Hank Bounds said the National Strategic Research Institute’s work aligns with the “cornerstones” for excellence he has outlined for the university, including goals related to research and innovation and leveraging partnerships to achieve shared goals.
“The National Strategic Research Institute is only a few years old and already it is a success story for our university and state,” Bounds said. “Nebraskans might be surprised to learn that some of the most important national security research in the country is happening in their own backyard. We have great opportunities ahead – a credit to capable NSRI leadership and, most of all, the faculty whose expertise and commitment make an ambitious effort like this possible.”
Examples of research being conducted through NSRI include development of a system that can detect nuclear materials hidden within more than a foot of steel; development of vaccines for infectious diseases like anthrax; engineering systems to defend military installations from weapons of mass destruction; and the study of the psychology of terrorist groups like ISIS. These and other areas – including combating emerging and persistent threats to the United States and its allies, like chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons – mean NSRI’s work is timely and relevant, Hinson said.
USSTRATCOM Commander Adm. Cecil D. Haney said that USSTRATCOM derives significant value from NSRI’s work.
“The NSRI at the University of Nebraska, in partnership with USSTRATCOM and the Department of Defense, is providing our nation with cutting-edge, mission-essential research and development capabilities in combating weapons of mass destruction,” Haney said. “The science of countering WMDs being conducted in Nebraska will help to ensure the United States’ safety and preparedness to respond to national security threats.”
Founded in 2012, the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska is the only University-Affiliated Research Center (UARC) in the country dedicated to delivering solutions for combating weapons of mass destruction to the U.S. Strategic Command and across other federal agencies. NSRI provides research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and other governmental agencies in multiple mission-critical competency areas — including development of medical countermeasures to WMD; nuclear detection and forensics; consequence management; chemical and biological weapons detection; and space, cyber, and telecom law. Learn more at nsri.nebraska.edu.
Contact: Tessa Bowen