Campus News

Conference to explore role of researchers in national security

An upcoming conference will inform UGA researchers about what they should know and do to prevent data theft abroad or the illegal transfer of intellectual property to foreign entities.

The half-day conference, “The Role of University Researchers in National Security,” will be held April 13 in the auditorium of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center on Riverbend Road.

The conference is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of International Education and the Office of Security and Emergency Preparedness. It will feature UGA experts and speakers from government agencies that oversee laws and regulations in this arena.

“There is a growing recognition by government that academic institutions are conducting research that has national security implications,” said Mike Beck, executive director of UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security and a conference speaker.

“Although international collaboration and cooperation are critical to so much of the research that takes place at a university, we need to recognize that a lack of compliance with federal security requirements can put our university at risk of fines and negative publicity,” he said.

“However, if we build a culture of security, UGA can become well positioned to manage larger federal grants and ­contracts.”

Regina Smith, associate vice president for research and one of the conference organizers, encouraged faculty in science and engineering disciplines, in particular, to attend.

“For researchers who collaborate internationally, ship equipment or technology from one country to another for research studies, or regularly host or employ international students, scholars or other visiting researchers in their labs, this conference is important.”

A list of questions helps researchers to decide if this conference is for them. “If the answer is ‘yes’ or ‘I don’t know’ to any of the questions, they should attend,” said Smith.

• Would you be upset if your research of the past 10 years was published under another person’s name in another country?
• Despite its confidential nature do you talk about your research openly with colleagues at international meetings? 
• Do you keep sensitive research data on your laptop when you travel?
• Do you have students, post-docs and collaborators from countries of exception?
• Do you work with technologies that are on the critical list?
• Have you been invited to give a lecture in a country of exception?
• Do you conduct research involving select agents, controlled chemicals and other strategic items?

The conference will feature speakers from the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security; Counterintelligence Training Activity, the Department of Energy; UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the Center for International Trade and Security. Registration for the conference is free, but must be made in advance. Priority will be given to UGA faculty until April 1.