President’s Veterans Day Op-Ed: University research serving those who serve us

November 10, 2017

By Hank Bounds
President, University of Nebraska

This Veterans Day, I’m reflecting on the many things that make our country special.

At the top of the list are the men and women who have fought to defend our freedoms – some of them making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ideals set forth by our Founding Fathers.

We can’t thank our veterans enough. It’s our privilege and responsibility to give back however we can to the men and women who have served our country.

One of the ways we can do that is through research and education that protects the United States and our soldiers from those who would do us harm. Nebraskans can be proud that in this area, their university is leading the way.

I recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit some of the nation’s top defense organizations and explore opportunities for continued partnership. From my conversations, it’s clear that the work being done at the University of Nebraska to keep our warfighters and citizens safe – whether from biological, chemical, nuclear, cyber or other kinds of threats – has caught the attention of experts in the nation’s Capital. They’re increasingly turning to our faculty to do the kind of research that will save lives on the battlefield.

We’re in elite company. The University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute, a five-year-old partnership with our neighbors at USSTRATCOM, is one of only 13 such centers in the country to conduct research directly for the Department of Defense. That means our military partners are depending on University of Nebraska expertise to quickly yield innovations that will help combat the very real threats we face to our national security.

That’s an incredible point of pride for Nebraska, one that is possible because of the support of our partners and the talents of our faculty. For me, it’s humbling to serve alongside faculty whose work has this kind of impact. Here are just a few examples:

  • Our pathologists are working to develop vaccines for infectious diseases like anthrax. The work of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in treating Ebola patients has already garnered international attention and is one reason we were recently selected to host a global infectious disease training center.
  • We’re using social media to understand the psychology of groups like ISIS to gain an edge in the fight against terrorism.
  • Our physicists are developing lasers that can detect nuclear materials hidden within more than a foot of steel.
  • Our engineers are designing better roads and traffic control devices that will help protect U.S. military bases around the world.
  • Research by our food scientists will result in faster, more effective responses to outbreaks of foodborne illness among military personnel.

In all, well over 100 University of Nebraska faculty and students have been engaged in the work of the National Strategic Research Institute since its founding. What’s most exciting to me is that our work is just beginning. We have an opportunity to grow our defense research efforts significantly – doing even more to support the mission of USSTRATCOM, the Department of Defense and the warfighters who put their lives on the line to defend us.

Our goal is for University of Nebraska research to help more of our men and women in uniform come home safely. This is among the most important work of our university. And it’s exactly the kind of work Nebraska’s public university should be doing – bringing our resources to bear to serve citizens and address the urgent challenges facing our state and world.

To Nebraska’s veterans and their families, including the University of Nebraska students, faculty and staff who have served, thank you. We are honored to support you.

Media Contact:
Melissa Lee
Director of Communications,
University of Nebraska