CEHC Undergrad Turns Semester Research Project into Published Paper

Guardia di Finanza police in central Rome.
Guardia di Finanza police in central Rome.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 30, 2021) – When Jeffery Doherty first approached his College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) professor last year with a semester research project idea, he never expected where it would lead – to being a published scholar before starting graduate school.

Doherty, who earned a dual bachelor’s degree in EHC and Journalism last May, is the co-author of a new paper published this month in the Journal of Financial Crime, analyzing the organizational structure of the Italian national law enforcement agency known as “Guardia di Finanza."

The paper uses publicly-available government documents, along with a secondary analysis, to take a deep historical dive into the agency’s evolution and its unusual list of roles which include domestic security, policing and financial crime investigations.  

Brian Nussbaum, an assistant professor at CEHC, served as Doherty’s advisor on the project and is the paper’s other co-author.

“Jeff was in one of my homeland security classes and took an interest in the field,” said Nussbaum. “The initial impetus behind researching Guardia di Finanza is that the organization does a unique bundle of stuff, similar to our Department of Homeland Security, but with an added financial investigations unit. He wanted to learn more about them.”

“This turned into a research internship course and now a published paper. Jeff did the bulk of the data collection, using publicly-available government documents to harvest, quality-control and create large datasets. He wrote substantial portions of the paper.”

Research Showcase Winner 

Photo of student Jeffery Doherty.
Jeffery Doherty (pictured above) is a native of Brooklyn.

Prior to pursuing published work, Doherty presented findings at the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Engagement (CURCE)’s 17th annual Student Conference in April 2020. He was named a Presidential Award for Undergraduate Research recipient.

Doherty used initial datasets from his CURCE research presentation as a launching point to start a broader analysis for his paper.

Given the very limited amount of public information available on Guardia di Finanza, Doherty was met with a number of challenges both during his research process and when submitting the paper to journals. But, he said it all made for a good learning experience.

“This whole process was new for me,” Doherty said. “Working on a project for class and turning the findings into published research are two very different experiences. These academic journals have their own specific audience and interests. You have to tailor your work to them and be ok with rejection. It takes heart and dedication to make it through the approval process.”

A native of Brooklyn, Doherty is returning to UAlbany next fall to pursue an MPA degree at Rockefeller College. He’s most interested in homeland security policy and financial management.

“My advice to students is to take initiative and pursue opportunities in front of you,” Doherty said. “You’re probably not going to get everything right on the first try. But, that’s why it’s called experiential learning."