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The University of Alabama

UA’s Enders Named to National Academies Security Committee

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Walter Enders, professor and Lee Bidgood Chair of Economics and Finance at The University of Alabama’s Culverhouse College of Commerce, has been named to the Committee on Developing Metrics for the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Research: A Study.

The committee is a project that falls under the auspices of the National Academies, which puts together committees of experts in all areas of scientific and technological endeavor. These experts serve pro bono to address critical national issues and give advice to the federal government and the public.

Enders’ appointment ends March 31, 2011.

“Dr. Enders’ appointment is indicative of the extreme importance and relevance of his research,” said Dr. Billy Helms, head of the business school’s department of economics, finance and legal studies. “He has become an international figure in the study of transnational terrorism.”

Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, contacted Enders last year after an article appeared in The Economist magazine about a study Enders conducted which examined the costs and benefits of counterterrorism investments.

“We found that intelligence is the most cost-effective way to reduce terrorism,” Enders said. “That’s what they were really interested in.”

Enders and two other professors found that the return on investment to secure airports, embassies and ports is just nine cents for every dollar. The return on money spent on intelligence, however, was 900 percent, meaning that nations are underfunding intelligence efforts and overfunding security, Enders said.

The professors visited Interpol officials in Lyon, France. The agency will soon supply the economists with information about thwarted attacks that will better help their analysis.

“We can compare the nature of the plots that they’re best able to foil,” he said, and determine where countries should best spend their resources.

Enders’ research was funded by the Copenhagen Consensus, a group formed to improve prioritization and investments in connection with 10 of the world’s biggest problems.

The committee will conduct a study to develop a framework of metrics to enable the Department of Homeland Security’s Directorate of Science and Technology to better plan and evaluate its research activities and efficiency in balancing economic costs versus increased security.

Prior studies of the National Academies and other social science studies of scientific research will be key to the proposed work. The committee will plan and hold a series of interactive workshops, gather and synthesize relevant data and prior research findings, and develop a consensus report with conclusions and recommendations.

Enders’ current research focuses on the development and application of time-series models to areas in economics and finance. Applications include estimates of the term-structure of interest rates, the behavior of real and nominal exchange rates and rational-actor models of transnational terrorism.

Enders has published numerous research articles in such journals as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and the Journal of International Economics. He has also published articles in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Business and Economic Statistics, and the American Political Science Review. Enders’ ‘Applied Econometric Time-Series” is a leading book in the field. He has formal editorial responsibilities for three different journals in the area of international economics and has served as a policy advisor to Ukraine.

Enders and Todd Sandler jointly received the National Academy of Sciences Estes Award for Behavioral Research Relevant to the Prevention of Nuclear War. The award recognizes basic research in any field of cognitive or behavioral science that has employed rigorous formal or empirical methods, optimally a combination of these, to advance our understanding of problems or issues relating to the risk of nuclear war. The National Academy presented the award for their joint work on transnational terrorism using game theory and time series analysis to document the cyclic and shifting nature of terrorist attacks in response to defensive counteractions.

Enders received his bachelor’s and master’s from the University of Toledo and his Master of Philosophy and doctorate from Columbia University.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.