Today, as we mark the 6th Annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I want to take a moment to lend my voice to the chorus of appreciation for the many, and varied, contributions of our nation’s (and indeed the entire world’s) female scientists. I also can’t emphasize enough the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (S&T) very real commitment to fostering the next generation of leaders through a comprehensive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics curriculum in our schools. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say this: today might be the official day to recognize women and girls, but we honor them and reap the benefits of their work every day of the year.
It’s right there, “science” is in our name, and it’s in our blood. And, we have some pretty amazing women here at S&T who work tirelessly to support pioneering innovations and programs to secure our homeland. S&T supports a wide breadth of research and development (R&D) needs across DHS, giving us the opportunity to leverage their talents to combat some of the greatest challenges to our nation’s security:
- Public Safety Threat Prevention
- S&T National Laboratories
- Opioid Abuse
- Chemical and Biological Defense
- First Responder Safety and Personal Protective Equipment
- Combatting Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation
And it’s not just through our own program managers and subject matter experts that we create a lasting impact on technological advancements. Our DHS Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program (female-led) works with many women-owned small businesses that have made significant strides in developing new technologies to support homeland security needs.
Take Florida-based company Design Interactive, Inc., whose patented Operational Stress Index algorithm, compatible with wrist-worn devices that measure individualized stress, will help first responders during training and in operational environments. Design Interactive’s work was recently honored with a prestigious Tibbetts Award for demonstrating significant economic and social impact through their technological development.
Another notable woman-owned SBIR company, Massachusetts-based Polestar Technologies, Inc., developed a chemical identification capability for hidden explosives. Through the SBIR Program, Polestar was able to fully automate their Self-Tracking and Reconnaissance of Explosives (STARE) system to improve explosives detection and identification by security personnel. Polestar and DHS are currently exploring the use of STARE Automatic Identification Detection at building entry points.
These are only some examples of how women continue to play a crucial role in leading S&T’s actual science and technology, and there are several more we could point out related to our stakeholder engagement efforts (for example, our innovation funding programs, which cast a wide, inclusive net to identify and implement cutting-edge solutions).
Today and every day, we will continue to nurture a legacy of women leading the way in R&D.