With the touch of a lighter to specially treated gauze, Jay M. Cohen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched the federal department’s new Center of Excellence in Explosives, Detection, Mitigation, Response and Characterization at URI. The University’s Center, one of only 12 such centers in the nation, will bring $5.15 million to URI during the next three years. Northeastern University is a co-leader of the center.
“We’re excited about the work this center will do,” Cohen said to officials from federal, state, and local governments and to members of various military and law enforcement agencies who participated in the launch. “Detecting, defeating, and destroying explosive devices before they can get to their target is a critically important goal. If you get the bomber, you don’t need to worry about the bomb.”
Jimmie Oxley, professor of chemistry and co-director of URI’s Forensic Science Partnership, is the center’s co-director.
Being named a center of excellence in explosives research adds to URI’s growing reputation as a world leader in the field, with the governments of Israel and the United Kingdom and U.S. agencies such as the FBI, Department of Defense, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms relying on URI expertise in the research of explosives, energetic materials, and pyrotechnics during the past 15 years. In addition, international and national reporters make Oxley their first call when they need expert commentary on an attack involving explosives.
Oxley has assembled a nationally and internationally renowned team for the research and education project that will enhance teacher training in science in kindergarten through high school, and in undergraduate and graduate science education at participating universities. It will also stimulate explosives research in the areas of detection, mitigation, response, and characterization.
“This award speaks to URI’s ability to bring diverse researchers with wide ranging perspectives and expertise to bear on significant societal issues and crises,” said President Robert L. Carothers. “We take great pride in the work of Dr. Oxley and her colleagues. Because of her team’s work, our world is becoming a safer place.”
More about the Center from URI and The Providence Journal.