The DHS Learning Curve Rounds Up Psychologists

The DHS Scholars and Fellows program, which provides generous support to rising undergraduate juniors and first or second year graduate students, continues to demonstrate appreciation for psychology and other social sciences.

The DHS Scholars and Fellows program, which provides generous support to rising undergraduate juniors and first or second year graduate students, continues to demonstrate appreciation for psychology and other social sciences. Science Policy staff serve in a liaison role between DHS University Program staff and the student community to promote dissemination of program materials and encourage students to apply to the program. In early December, DHS provided data for the most recent round of awards announced in a DHS press release on November 15.

Of this year's 105 awardees (47 graduate and 58 undergraduate students), 18 awardees were students in social sciences, including psychology, economics, international relations, linguistics, political science and science policy. Awards to psychology majors were split across clinical, experimental, general, and social subdisciplines. The representation of social sciences in 2004 is roughly comparable to that seen in 2003, where again budding social scientists received approximately 20% of the awards.

DHS's continued support of the University Programs broadly, and of disciplinary training in social sciences in particular, is critically important as Science Policy staff continue to advocate for the role of psychology in homeland and national security on Capitol Hill. Threats to gut the DHS Scholars and Fellows program were averted with a final appropriation of $70 million in the 2005 DHS funding bill, but congressional support will be sorely tested in 2006 as so many competing priorities vie for attention.

Because the nation's current priorities reflect the "not if, but when" anticipation of future domestic terrorist attacks, DHS will likely continue to fare well overall. However, despite recognition that humans perpetrate terrorism, thus far the DHS budget has been driven by microbes and molecules, with most of the funding oriented toward countermeasures for weapons of mass destruction (i.e., chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents). Therefore, it really is incumbent upon the field to leverage demonstrable success stories, like those within the University Programs, to continue elevating the profile of psychology across DHS. Application materials for the 2005 competition will soon be available here.