Steven Polunsky, Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) research scientist, is the recipient of a prestigious homeland security award given to one student in each Naval Postgraduate School Center For Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) class.
The Curtis H. ‘Butch’ Straub Achievement Award is named after the man who founded CHDS and is presented to the student who demonstrated leadership, integrity, vision and intellectual courage.
In 2014, Polunsky applied to the CHDS class, which was developed in 2002 to assist “current and future leaders in Homeland Defense and Security to develop the policies, strategies, programs and organizational elements needed to defeat terrorism in the United States.” Only 30 people are accepted to each master’s-level class.
“I’ve always had an interest in emergency response and homeland security, especially in how they relate to transportation,” Polunsky says. “They are closely linked, especially if you consider how planes, trains, and buses are international targets and how our highway system is a pipeline for drugs and human trafficking. Our transportation facilities are critical infrastructures. There are numerous facets to this problem, and we need to identify and address vulnerabilities.”
Prior to joining TTI’s Transportation Policy Research Center in 2013, Polunsky worked as director for various Texas Senate committees, including the Transportation and Homeland Security Committee. He will now apply what he’s learned to his work at TTI.
“My intention is to improve the integration of security and safety planning in transportation and mobility,” he says.
Polunsky received the Straub Award, which is based on grades, a thesis and classroom leadership, during a ceremony Dec. 18 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
“I can simply say that it was my great pleasure to have you in class (as well as an advisee) and witness, first hand, your intelligence, hard work, and dedication,” thesis advisor Thomas Mackin said in a letter informing Polunsky of his award.
Learn more about the CHDS program: https://www.chds.us/c/