Knowing just who is coming into the country is key to security, but continues to be challenging. Researchers in West Virginia University’s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources are working with colleagues across the country to use biometrics to try to meet that challenge.

A $400,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence in Border Security and Immigration, or Borders project, to WVU’s renowned biometric experts is part of a 14-institution, $16 million, six-year project being led by the University of Arizona. The goal is to develop technologies, processes and policies that will help protect our nation’s borders, foster international trade and enhance long-term understanding of immigration trends and dynamics.

Researchers at WVU will be conducting research on biometric identification and surveillance.

“The ability to positively confirm the identity of people crossing international borders has always been of paramount importance,” said Bojan Cukic, principal investigator for WVU. “In spite of significant advances in the field of biometrics, accurate human identification at the borders remains a challenge. An increase in the number of travelers at designated border crossings dictates that their positive identification is prompt, nonintrusive and accurate. Given the ever-growing size of biometric datasets (visa applicants, watch lists, etc.) meeting such requirements represents a difficult challenge to current operational concepts deployed at U.S. ports of entry.”

Borders is developing, testing and evaluating prototypes in both the laboratory and the field to inform future design and implementation for border security and immigration. As a result, Borders provides real, measurable improvements from a practical standpoint, as well as scientific validity from a critical perspective.

“We are also committed to training and mentoring the next generation of leaders in border security and immigration,” said Dr. Elyse Golob, executive director of BORDERS Center of Excellence. “As such, we provide a unique and irreplaceable resource to Department of Homeland Security, Congress, federal and state agencies, stakeholders, the academic community and the public good.”

“Given the research reputation that WVU has built in the field of biometrics, the research we conduct within Borders completes the spectrum of research projects we perform for the federal government sponsors,” said Cukic. “It also provides WVU students with opportunities to learn firsthand about the challenges in the national security arena and be better prepared for the job market.”

Co-investigators with Cukic are Donald Adjeroh, Arun Ross, Vinod Kulathumani and Mridul Gautam.

Participating organizations include Arizona State University, Migration Policy Institute, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Penn State, RAND Corp., RTI International, San Diego State University, University of California–Irvine, University of Minnesota, University of Texas-Pan American and University of Washington.



CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon; College of Engineering and Mineral Resources;

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