RC student researches national security during internship

by rcnewsblog on February 25, 2015

ResearchHeads-34Jessica Gladfelter ’15, spent the majority of her summer learning about national security practices in Washington, D.C.

A psychology major and Ohio native, Gladfelter interned for Homeland Security Studies & Analysis Institute (HSSAI), a federally funded research and development center. She researched pre-attack indicators, which are detectable manifestations of an attacker’s intent and capability to harm someone else. Gladfelter focused on pre-attack indicators for large gatherings, specifically mega churches and their security practices, beliefs about security and their resistance to security.

Gladfelter plans on pursuing graduate school after she graduates from Roanoke, and she plans to focus on industrial organization psychology. She is interested in working in a similar field as her internship with HSSAI by studying the behaviors and the physical and psychological well-being of those in the workplace.

Gladfelter recently discussed her internship and the lessons that she learned through it.

RC News Blog: What was the focus of your internship?

Jessica Gladfelter: HSSAI is a federally funded research center that is contracted out to work independently on specialized assignments. My goal as an intern was to research and understand the workings of Homeland Security and the effectiveness of its strategies with laws, security and public enforcement.

RC News Blog: What was some of the most interesting work that you did during your internship?

Jessica Gladfelter: I conducted 16 interviews with large venue operations and their security directors, police, or retired secret police. I was able to study large venue attacks found on houses of worship, at school shootings, and even the violence found at malls. I also received access to research certain resources specifically looking at terrorism. I learned the 12 step process on how to build a car bomb, how to attack someone and who the foreign fighters are. By the end of the internship, I had received the lowest level of clearance at the Department of Homeland Security.

RC News Blog: What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?

Jessica Gladfelter: The most challenging aspect of working with HSSAI was trying to accomplish all the tasks they wanted to finish in the short amount of time I worked there. It was stressful managing and completing multiple jobs in the few months I was there. I am still in coordination with my mentor, and we are collaborating to finish more articles that I could not finish while I was there.

-By Allison Shannon ’15

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