NC State Research:
Protecting the Public

Let’s face it. The world can be a dangerous place. Whether it’s from a suspected terrorist trying to detonate explosives on a jet, tainted peanut butter killing dozens of people and sickening hundreds more, or hackers unleashing the latest virus on millions of computers and disrupting business transactions, today’s needs for protective measures require the efforts of the best and brightest in developing high-tech solutions. NC State researchers are working in a broad range of fields to create more protection against menacing elements, improving safety and security for government, business, and the public.

Such research has become more of a focus at NC State in recent years as University faculty and students conduct innovative safety and security efforts, integrating fields as diverse as chemical engineering, anthropology, soil science, textiles, computer science, nuclear physics, remote sensing, plant pathology, microbiology, and supply chain management. “We work hard to connect our researchers in interdisciplinary ways,” says Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Terri Lomax. “Safety and security issues, whether faced by individuals, the state, or the nation, are complex problems that call for expertise and creativity across multiple disciplines.”

NC State has already formed several research initiatives to handle safety- and security-related projects, Lomax says. She points to NC State’s Secure Open Systems Initiative to address threats to software and computer operating systems, the Textile Protection and Comfort Center to produce gear that insulates first responders from harm, and the Forensic Sciences Institute to support law enforcement in solving crimes. NC State also is teaming with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a $5 million Department of Homeland Security project to connect disparate databases for better monitoring of disease outbreaks and other biohazards. “These are high-priority issues for the nation and the world,” Lomax says. “Because of its unique combination of strengths, NC State has developed many innovative approaches that show great, near-term promise in addressing some of the most intractable safety and security problems.”

Safety and security issues are complex problems that call for expertise and creativity across multiple disciplines.

This issue of RESULTS features research that promotes safety and security on various fronts. It also highlights achievements across the full range of NC State’s research in the 2008–09 Research and Graduate Studies Annual Report summarized in the last four pages.