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EKU Homeland Security Program Holds 4TH Annual Research Showcase

On Wednesday, December 6, 2017, the Homeland Security Program at Eastern Kentucky University’s College of Justice and Safety held it’s 4TH Annual Undergraduate Research Showcase.  The showcase, consisting of both juried poster and oral presentations, provides an avenue for undergraduate students to demonstrate their work and experience communicating their research with others.   The event was first conceptualized during the 2014 EKU Assurance of Learning Day, a yearly opportunity for EKU faculty to discuss student learning within their specific academic programs. 

This year’s showcase included forty-four posters and five oral presentations providing a broad representation of the diversity of topics, approaches and research interests in the HLS program.  Students competed against one another for a first place plaque in each category and funds from the Dr. Norman Spain Excellence in Research Scholarship.

Dr. Spain retired from the EKU College of Justice and Safety in December 2014.   Prior to his departure, his family endowed a scholarship in his name for future generations of EKU Homeland Security students.  Consequently, the winners of both the poster and oral presentation categories received scholarships from this fund.  The winners were determined by rubrics utilized by a panel of judges.   The 2017 judges included:

·             Mr. Jarred Ball – Kentucky Office of Homeland Security

·             Mr. Dwayne Depp – Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training

·             Dr. Jonathan Gore – EKU Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors

·             Mr. Mike Matson – Federal Bureau of Investigation

·             Ms. Kimberley Kavanaugh – EKU Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors

·             Mr. Tim Brandewie – Lexington (KY) Emergency Management

·             Mr. James Lewis – Kentucky Department of Emergency Management

·             Detective Chris Russell – Lexington (KY) Police Department

Kimberly MatolaFollowing the poster presentation session, the keynote speaker for the evening was Mrs. Tawanda Owsley, the Executive Director for the Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross.  Following the keynote, homeland security students delivered five oral presentations.  After the presentations, the seven judges deliberated while the EKU Chapter of the Order of the Sword and Shield (National Homeland Security Honor Society) inducted sixteen members. The evening concluded with the announcement of the winners in both the poster and oral presentation categories. 

The winner of the oral presentation was Ms. Kimberly Matola, a junior Homeland Security major from Hebron, Kentucky.  Kim’s presentation was entitled, “Industrial Control Systems Threats and Vulnerabilities”, based on her research from the HLS 321W course, “Critical Problem Analysis”.   In addition to her Homeland Security major, she is pursuing minors in Psychology, Informatics and Cybersecurity and Intelligence.  Additionally, she is pursuing university certificates in Intelligence Studies and Security Management. 

With regard to poster presentations, this year the HLS faculty decided to divide the posters by curricular themes due to the growing number of posters accepted each year.  Within the three categories of (1) General Homeland Security, (2) Disaster Management and (3) Intelligence Studies, judges selected a category winner.  From those three posters, judges selected one overall winner of the juried research poster presentation. 

Jarren ThomasThe winner of this year’s HLS Undergraduate Research Showcase Juried Research Poster Presentation (as well as the general homeland security category) was Mr. Jarren Thomas, a junior Homeland Security major from Louisville, Kentucky.  Jarren’s poster was entitled, “Jihadist Recruitment and Radicalization Among Vulnerable Populations” and was based on his research from the HLS 321W course, “Critical Problem Analysis”. 

Honorable mention goes to the winner of the Intelligence Studies poster category, Ms. Shelby Hall from Ashland, Kentucky.  The winner of the Disaster Management poster category was Trenton Hurlburt, a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. 

Charles DaabAnother new addition to this year’s showcase was the recognition of all homeland security majors graduating in December who qualified for university honors (cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude).  Approximately 14 HLS students will graduate in this year’s December graduation with half of them qualifying for university honors.  Additionally, the full time homeland security faculty voted on an Outstanding Senior award that recognizes a graduating senior who exhibits academic excellence, involvement in the EKU community and overall contribution to the homeland security profession.   This year’s winner was Mr. Charles O. Daab of Chicago, Illinois, a Homeland Security major with a Fire and Arson Investigation minor.  Throughout his time at EKU, he has held student offices in the Homeland Security and Assets Protection Leaders of Tomorrow and the Justice and Safety Student Leaders.  Finally, Charlie also serves as a volunteer firefighter for the Kirksville Volunteer Fire Department. 

Overall, the showcase was successful in demonstrating to the EKU community the significant role that student research plays in the HLS program.   For more information on the Eastern Kentucky University Homeland Security Program, visit

Special thanks this year to:

Bluegrass State Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence:  &

Eastern Kentucky University Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors:

Published on January 03, 2018

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