August 2016

IDA Research Staff participate vigorously in various professional activities – both within their disciplines and ancillary to them – including publishing in the open literature. Highlights of IDA research activity from August 2016 follow.

IDA’s Korea Expert Quoted

SFRD’s Kongdan (Katy) Oh HassigSFRD’s Katy Oh Hassig, an internationally recognized expert on Korea affairs, was recently quoted in Voice of America News. In the article, Dr. Oh argues that North Korean Leader Kim Jon Un will continue to provoke crises and escalate tension in pursuit of recognition and respect for his status as the leader of a nuclear weapon state. Dr. Oh has written previous articles on the precarious Korean nuclear situation.

DIRI-SGI Team Comes Home from Niger

Members of the Defense Institution Reform Initiative (DIRI)-Security Governance Initiative (SGI) team.The Defense Institution Reform Initiative (DIRI)-Security Governance Initiative (SGI) team recently returned from another trip to Niger. The Niger team is part of a set of IDA projects, begun in the early 1990s, to improve the military capabilities of American security partners via strengthening their planning and management. IDA had done this work in 56 countries, and currently works in 23 teams with more than 60 researchers helping in the effort. The work is co-led by SFRD's Wade Hinkle and Chuck Fletcher.

The Niger Team is led by Kent Fasana (CARD) and draws IDA staff from JAWD (Jim Ayers - Logistics, Brian Williams - Logistics, Sarah Collins - Human Resources), IAD (Ashley Bybee - Strategy), and SFRD (Paul Clarke - Strategy). The SGI project uses a variety of expert resources, including RAND as well as IDA. So Kent's team also includes RAND human resource experts, demonstrating for the OSD sponsor how FFRDCs can be integrated on common projects. (And in other countries on this project, IDA contributes experts that work under RAND lead).

This recent trip from July 17 to 29 was the fifth trip the team has taken since November 2015. The group tries to go every two months to maintain some consistency. They will go again in October and then in December.

The work in Niger, which envisions substantial improvements in management of the security sector, also benefits from high-level commitments from the Niger government (including the President's national security advisor, Gen. Boulama, 2nd from left in photo below."

IDA Researcher Publishes New Book

Stephanie Burchard participating in a conference in Kenya.IAD’s Stephanie Burchard – member of the Africa team and author of Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes and Consequences – was recently interviewed about her book and specifically her views on electoral violence. The Q&A interview appeared in Kim Yi Dionne’s Monkey Cage blog of political science research in the Washington Post. Dr. Burchard’s book (FirstForumPress, July 15, 2015) expands on research she has undertaken at IDA in the areas of elections and electoral behavior; public opinion analysis; political institutions; democracy and democratization.

IDA Researcher Reaches Young Scientists Through Music

Dr. Jim Thorne, a RSM with SED.SED’s Jim Thorne, as a hobby, has been doing musical space science presentations in local elementary schools to promote interest in space exploration, including Greenbriar East Elementary School in Fairfax, Virginia, where he’s scheduled to do a space science assembly on June 22 at the end of the school year. He’s done similar presentations for the last few years at about 12 different schools for more than 2,000 students so far. One of the schools was St. Bernard’s boys’ school in New York, which was quite an experience!

To introduce his school presentations, Dr. Thorne composed seven space-themed story songs for grade school students. He performs these songs to get their attention before presenting interesting facts about space science, and the kids really seem like to learn when they are motivated by the music. Jim recently finished a studio recording of his space songs and has produced a new CD called To Follow Apollo, which is about space exploration by kids of the future and is available online. Fairfax Public Access just posted the episode of “Around Space TV” with an interview with Jim and some of his songs on YouTube.

The stories are about two characters, a boy and a girl named Tommy and Laura, who explore the solar system together and help each other to solve the problems they encounter in space. In the title song, they return to the moon to find the Apollo landing sites and visit three more places where the final Apollo moon missions 18 through 20 would have landed, had they not been canceled by Congress in 1972. Eventually, Tommy and Laura head off to the stars after receiving a radio message from an alien race! The title song, “To Follow Apollo” has been played on the air by radio station WERA in Arlington.

IDA Researcher Published

Hilary Matfess, IDA IAD RSA and Ahmed, a displaced Nigerian child.IAD researcher Hilary Matfess’s article “Nigeria's Breaking Point – Letter from Maiduguri” appears in the July 19 Issue of Foreign Affairs. Although she is relatively new to IDA and IAD’s Africa program, she previously was a member of the Nigeria Social Violence Research Project at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a research analyst working on issues of governance and security in Sub-Saharan Africa; she wrote this article during her time in Maiduguri.