Borders Education


Student Participation

A critical component of BORDERS’ comprehensive educational program is the participation of students in scientific and engineering research projects. Every year, approximately 30 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students are funded directly through the Center. A variety of approaches are leveraged to stimulate interest in the Center, as well as facilitate the development of these students to become successful homeland security professionals if they so choose.

An example of a highly-effective strategy to recruit potential students to the BORDERS center is the Zipperman Scholars program at the University of Arizona in the Eller College of Management. The Zipperman Scholar program identifies high-achieving first years and sophomores in the business school and works to stimulate interest in the Management Information Systems (MIS) program in the business school. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the focus of their work was border security. Introducing young scholars to this research introduces the potential for developing future BORDERS researchers, and ultimately, homeland security professionals.

Student Collaboration

An additional aspect of education is the opportunity for students to collaborate and develop long-term working partnerships with other researchers and DHS professionals outside of the BORDERS center. Aaron Elkins, a former PhD student at the University of Arizona, was selected as one of the "best and brightest" homeland security researchers in the United States and the United Kingdom. Dr. Elkins, in addition to 39 other science and engineering students, participated in two workshops focusing on the future of aviation security. Opportunities like this allow students to participate in long-term multi-disciplinary research, which contributes to the educational goals of the BORDERS center.

Through the involvement with our research, students across many disciplines are becoming familiar with DHS’ mission and needs, and are gaining expertise in the HS-STEM and immigration-related disciplines. As a result of this unique experience, they will be well positioned to seek careers in the areas of border security and immigration or to serve as DHS professionals upon graduation. Additionally, the collaboration between BORDERS researchers and current homeland security professionals facilitates the diffusion of knowledge from academia to industry, allowing practitioners to more effectively and efficiently complete their objectives.

Minority Serving Institutions

Since its inception in 2008, BORDERS has shown its commitment to working closely with Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). We believe that fostering collaborations with MSIs ensures diversity in the next generation of scientists and researchers, and has the potential to provide well-trained agency personnel.

MSI Summer Research Team Program

Each summer, BORDERS hosts a team of researchers from a Minority Serving Institution for a ten-week collaboration on a current research project.  The MSI team consists of a faculty advisor and his/her students who become fully immersed in the Center’s activities during their tenure in Tucson.    

The MSI Summer Research Team program is funded by DHS and offers faculty and students from MSI’s a unique opportunity to participate in COE research and activities.  At the end of the summer, faculty participants are encouraged to apply for up to $50,000 in follow-on funding to continue the research collaboration at their home academic institutions during the following academic year. The 2012 recipient of the MSI SRT program at BORDERS, Dr. Yuhong Zhang of Texas Southern University, received follow-on funding to continue her work investigating advanced signal processing techniques and continues to work with BORDERS on this line of research.

The program provides early career faculty with research and funding opportunities that can be advantageous when applying for tenure. The program also provides later career faculty with opportunities to apply their well-developed skill sets to homeland security research problems of vital interest to the nation.  Past faculty and student participants have enjoyed the summer research experience, conducted meaningful research, and made new professional connections, many of which have led to fruitful and ongoing research collaborations and additional funding opportunities.

Faculty from all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines are encouraged to apply, including faculty in agricultural sciences, biological/life sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, psychology, and social sciences. Details about the program, including eligibility guidelines and application forms, can be found at