National Science Foundation is looking to the Texas A&M System to help others protect their sensitive research
BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A national leader in protecting sensitive research, The Texas A&M University System has been tapped by an independent federal agency to help institutions keep their federally funded research out of the hands of adversaries of the U.S. government.
The National Science Foundation recently granted four awards, including one to the Texas A&M System for $470,808, to create training programs to bolster research security. The NSF said the Research Security Training for the United States Research Community program is designed to strengthen research security in the U.S. while also encouraging principled international collaboration.
“The Texas A&M System is known worldwide for our ability to protect sensitive research being conducted for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and other federal offices,” John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M System, said. “We take our job in research security very seriously, and we are glad to do our part to help others keep their work away from our adversaries.”
The National Science Foundation said on its website that the grants will “help safeguard scientific progress and protect U.S. research interests from foreign and domestic risks and threats.”
It is widely agreed upon among U.S. university officials that international collaboration is crucial to scientific advancement and the success of research institutions in the U.S., and one of the primary roles of academic institutions is the free and comprehensive generation and dissemination of knowledge.
Unfortunately, the playing field is not level, and we are struggling to maintain our technological leadership because countries like Russia, China, Iran and others who play by different rules for information-sharing are extracting cutting-edge data, intellectual capital and expertise from the U.S. research enterprise at an unprecedented rate, said Kevin Gamache, associate vice chancellor and chief research security officer for the Texas A&M System.
“The U.S. research enterprise and its funding agencies must combat this illicit technology transfer,” Gamache said. “We must improve the state of security and transparency across the research enterprise to allow us to continue to operate in an open and collaborative environment on the international stage.”
With its funding from the National Science Foundation, the Texas A&M System team will create research security training for the U.S. research enterprise that will play a foundational role in addressing the risks to maintaining the open and collaborative environment that has made the U.S. research community the best in the world. The trainings will be available to researchers, students, academics, research security experts, government agencies and national laboratories personnel.
Led by Gamache, the Texas A&M System group will develop a training module that will focus on properly disclosing information and clarifying the importance of transparency. The Texas A&M team is part of a consortium that includes the Texas A&M System, Texas A&M University, IPTalons, a Texas-based company specializing in intellectual property protection, and Redcliff Enterprises, a Washington D.C.-based consultancy specializing in research security.
Joining the Texas A&M System, other institutions that received funding include the University of Alabama in Huntsville for $477,403, the University of Pennsylvania for $306,449, and Associated Universities, Inc., and AUI Labs for $499,338.
For more information, visit the National Science Foundation website at https://beta.nsf.gov/news/nsf-2022-research-security-training-united-states.
The University of Alabama in Huntsville team will focus on enhancing awareness and providing online training about existing and emerging threats.
The University of Pennsylvania will develop a training module to assess, reduce and manage security risks to research data.
Associated Universities, Inc., and AUI Labs will create an online tool using hypothetical scenarios and real-world case studies to teach advanced skills.
The Texas A&M System, which conducts approximately $400 million in sensitive research for a variety of U.S. government sponsors, is a leader nationally when it comes to research security. The System is a two-time winner of the prestigious James S. Cogswell Award for Outstanding Industrial Security, earing the recognition in 2015 and 2019. Given by the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, the award is for establishing and maintaining a security program that far exceeds the basic National Industrial Security Program requirements and providing leadership to other facilities with security clearance, helping them establish best practices for maintaining the highest standards for security. Additionally, Gamache is often sought to speak about security and testified earlier this year before a committee of the U.S. Senate.
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $7.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, a comprehensive health science center, eight state agencies, and the RELLIS Campus, the Texas A&M System educates more than 152,000 students and makes more than 24 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceed $1 billion and help drive the state’s economy.
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