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Introduction to the Warwick International Security Initiative

What do we mean by “security” research?   
We are talking here about “security “ research in the broadest sense; any research that will contribute to the development of technologies and knowledge for building capabilities needed to ensure our society is free from danger and risk. This is not limited to security themes such as terrorism and radicalisation and could also include threats to, for example, food and water supplies.  
  
What is the Warwick International Security Initiative?

The Warwick International Security Initiative is a project funded by the University to undertake the initial scoping for a new research initiative and possibly a new research centre focussed on International Security. This is a multidisciplinary initiative bringing together researchers from across campus to address research questions in this area, sitting outside of the departmental structure (i.e. it is not based in or led by any one department). Current research themes include:

Who is involved?
So far over 65 academics have expressed an interest in the Initiative from across all faculties of the university, including the Faculties of Science and Medicine. Colleagues involved in the initiative need not have detailed knowledge of, or prior experience in, security research. We are inviting people to get involved who are interested in working at the interface between disciplines to generate fresh ideas and solutions to Security-related research questions. 
 
Which funders support research on security?
International security has become more pressing and more complex in recent years, opening up a large and increasingly multi-disciplinary research agenda. Many funders now identify security studies as a priority, including the UK Research Councils (e.g. the “Global uncertainties: security for all in a changing world”, a multi-million pound programme involving all 7 research councils) and the European Commission (e.g. the Security theme of FP7, with €1.4 billion available from 2007- 2013). Forthcoming EPSRC sand-pit topics include “Detecting Terrorist Activities” and “Resilience”. 
 
What research within the Science faculty could be applied to security studies?
The scope for science research within the area of security studies is vast, as indicated by the following examples of topics recently funded by the EPSRC, BBSRC and NERC:
  • Detection of threats- physiological, behavioural or spectral detection; remote detections; detection of electronic activity; detection of odours and explosives;
  • Sensing- chemical and physical signatures; animal olfaction; early warning systems for toxic agents in water; next-generation chemical sensors; development of new sensors for improved detection of biomolecules; nanoscale devices for improved sensitivity; environmental pollution;
  • Computer security- digital crime; secure data storage; encryption and analysis; IT forensics and data; information processing;
  • Psychology and identification- forensic psychology; forensic speech analysis, psychology of eyewitness identification; psychological profiling; neural networks; feature and acoustic recognition; fingerprint detection; image processing and pattern recognition;
  • Modelling- mortality estimation for populations; incident prediction; spread of disease; forecasting natural disasters;
  • Biological agents- misuse of microbes; identification/control of plant and animal diseases; detection, identification and dispersal of biological agents; response to new threats e.g. avian influenza; development of vaccines;
  • Energy- security of mineral supply, coastal and offshore renewable energy; impact of climate change on energy supply.  
Future activities
We are interested in developing new ideas and have small amounts of funding available to help with this. If you are interested in becoming involved in the project, or are already working in an area related to security studies please contact Katherine Branch (K.Branch@warwick.ac.uk or x24131).