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Our researchers within National Security at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) focus on delivering high-impact, science-based, practical solutions to our clients to prevent and counter acts of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our world-leading capabilities cross-cut market needs and one of our major strengths is our ability to integrate our research and projects across PNNL and take them to market. We are committed to providing excellent service to our clients to help make our world safe and more secure.

Nature and Talanta showcase NSD Chemical Forensics Work

Carlos Fraga

[May 2018] Nature and Talanta recently featured the work of the Chemical Forensics International Technical Working Group (CFITWG), which includes NSD researchers Carlos Fraga, James Moran, Kristin Jarman, Kabrena Rodda, John Cort; Laura Denlinger and MaryJo Boyus also helped organize the group. The CFITWG was formed in spring of 2017 by international researchers, treaty experts, law-enforcement agencies and industrialists seeking to improve the state of chemical forensics to prevent chemical weapons attacks.

The Nature article discusses the importance of chemical forensics in investigations such as that into the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England in March as well as to identify proliferators of chemical weapons.

The Talenta article Virtual Special Issue (VSI), guest-edited by Fraga, features CFITWG's first public article. Several other PNNL-authored articles are also included among the 17 accepted for this VSI.

Flu-prediction Work Highlighted in Scientific American Article

Svitlana Volkova

[April 2018] The April 2018 Scientific American features work by NSD's Svitlana Volkova and team on predicting influenza outbreaks using social media. In the article, #Flu: Mining Social Media to Predict Outbreaks, science writer Rachel Berkowitz compares Volkova and team’s work with previous work on flu outbreak prediction, which searched social media for illness-related words. Volkova's team instead used deep learning to correlate non-illness-related words in Twitter feeds with patterns of flu outbreaks. The algorithm "learned" to predict outbreaks up to two weeks in advance accurately. Such prediction may enable officials to take proactive public health measures that could save lives.

After PLOS One published the article by Svitlana and co-authors Katie Porterfield and Ellyn Ayton last December, Rachel wrote the Public Health section article for Scientific American

Yemen border guards receive training from PNNL experts

Yemen Border Guards

Yemeni border guards are much better positioned to conduct vehicle check point operations, mounted and dismounted patrolling, tracking, and advanced search and seizure techniques, and other methods that improve overall security on Yemen's borders, thanks to the contributions of NSD staff. A total of 29 Republic of Yemen Government Border Guards completed a two-week training course on land border interdictions of illicit materials led by Rob Siefken and Jerry Anderson in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in March. Given the sensitivities and tensions within the region, the course held significant political and military interest and drew a large audience from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the U.S. and British Embassies in Riyadh. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the U.S. Department of State have asked for another iteration of the training as soon as possible, indicating, "we will see some asymmetric payoffs for years to come..."

Read more in a news release from Arab News.

Medal Awarded for Work in Chemical Nonproliferation

Kabrena Rodda and OPCW’s Director-General, H.E. Mr Ahmet Üzümcü

Dr. Kabrena Rodda of the National Security Directorate was presented a medal from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in recognition for her work on The Hague Ethical Guidelines, the Global Chemists Code of Ethics, a chlorine workshop last year, and her body of work over the last two and a half decades to support international chemical nonproliferation efforts and to prevent the reemergence of chemical weapons.

Dr. Rodda, a chemist and retired Air Force Colonel, was presented the medal by OPCW’s Director-General, H.E. Mr. Ahmet Üzümcü, at the ACS meeting in New Orleans this past weekend. During his ACS address, Üzümcü specifically mentions Dr. Rodda's impact, saying “The ACS has embraced this and used The Hague Guidelines as the basis for developing the Global Chemists Code of Ethics. Your fellow esteemed ACS member, Dr. Kabrena Rodda, was a significant contributor to the Guidelines. Through this process, the ACS has put both the spirit and the purpose of the Hague Guidelines into action. Indeed, this is in line with the ACS Code which encourages the global chemistry enterprise to adopt internationally recognized practices for chemical safety and security, as well as to ensure compliance with arms control and nonproliferation commitments.” Üzümcü also met with Kabrena for about 30 minutes discussing their mutual goals of responsible science and preventing use of chemicals to harm people.

Dr. Rodda and other scientists from PNNL, IUPAC, and ACS organized a symposium at the conference on science and ethics surrounding the safety and security of chemicals, food, water and energy.

The OPCW is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997. As of today, OPCW has 192 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.

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Tony Peurrung
NSD Director, Dr. Tony Peurrung oversees the delivery of impactful science and technology for PNNL's National Security clients.

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