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    DTRA Director Talks Countering Threat Networks with Georgetown University Students

    Director Vayl Oxford  Defense Threat Reduction Agency talks to Microbiology Students at Med-Dent building at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. 010820

    Photo By Andrea Chaney | Director Vayl Oxford Defense Threat Reduction Agency talks to Microbiology Students...... read more read more



    Story by Andrea Chaney 

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency

    Washington, D.C.—Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) Director Vayl Oxford gave a guest lecture at the Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology for the Defense Threat Reduction Initiatives Course in Washington D.C., Jan. 8.

    Oxford briefed the students on DTRA’s efforts to fulfill its mission to enable Department of Defense (Do), the U.S. government (USG), and international partners to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and improvised threat networks. The agency director spoke as part of DTRA’s recently launched recruiting and outreach program targeting universities. DTRA’s goal is to attract, inspire and develop exceptional science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent to enrich the agency’s current and future workforce and help meet defense technological challenges.

    As part of the course curriculum, the Georgetown students are focused on exploring the various aspects of how the USG, specifically the DoD, works to safeguard America and its allies from WMD, including chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high yield explosives.
    Oxford said outreach to academia permits DTRA to introduce its career options to a more diverse population than is currently represented in the STEM fields.

    “Since taking over as DTRA director, it’s been a priority of mine to recruit new talent and the next generation workforce who can fill jobs that use technologies in newly emerging fields that did not exist just a few years ago,” said Oxford. “Speaking to these particular students with backgrounds and career goals that would fit ideally in with our Agency’s mission is a step in that direction.”

    Dr. John Jacocks, the Adjunct Assistant Professor for the School of Medicine at Georgetown University and instructor of the class said they use aspects of DTRA’s various mission capabilities as case studies to demonstrate how the government works to keep the United States and its allies safe from WMD threats.

    “The students usually bring a deep academic background in some areas related to the ‘scientific’ part of WMD,” Jacocks said. “Georgetown strives to make education as useful as possible and using DTRA as a case study helps show the many ways the USG approaches a complex problem; this facilitates that goal,” he said.

    Twenty four students attended the guest lecture, to hear from the leader of the DoD’s WMD-focused combat support agency, and better understand how DTRA and other USG and international partners work together in the current geopolitical threat environment, facing the complexities of an interconnected world of state and non-state actors.

    “I have been interested in the work of this Agency since I started researching possible career options with this degree,” said Erin Fink, a student in the Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infections Diseases Master’s (BHTA&IED) program and participant of the guest lecture. “I’m excited about doing something with my science background, though it’s intimidating because I don’t have much of a government background or work experience.”

    Oxford said DTRA is in need of people like Fink, and that there are programs already in place to help prime them for a permanent position and long career within the Agency.

    “We have so many opportunities these students can take advantage now, to set them up for success when they are preparing to graduate,” said Oxford. “Our human resource directorate and community outreach teams are already proactively engaged in finding the young, eager talent out there, and these students are our target audience.”

    After the lecture, Fink said she would definitely consider working for DTRA after hearing Oxford speak, and will likely apply soon as she prepares to graduate this May.

    “I really believe in DTRA’s mission and think that the knowledge this program has given me will be really valuable in pursuing and achieving that mission,” Fink said.

    For more information on DTRA’s mission and current student opportunities, visit



    Date Taken: 01.13.2020
    Date Posted: 01.13.2020 09:40
    Story ID: 358914
    Location: WASHINGTON, DC, US 

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