CEHC Professor Appointed to National Academies Study on Chemical Terrorism Threats

Headshot of Gary Ackerman, associate professor at CEHC.

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 7, 2022) – Gary Ackerman of the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) has been appointed to an expert committee assembled by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) that will lead a new study focused on countering threats of chemical terrorism in the United States.

NASEM, a private, nonprofit institution, convenes top scientists, engineers and other leading experts to provide policy advice to government officials on some of the most pressing societal issues.

Ackerman, along with a group of select scholars and practitioners, will fulfill a congressional directive to assess the current state of U.S. capabilities for identifying existing and emerging sources of chemical terrorism threats, including distribution and availability of raw materials and the availability of knowledge of chemical threat agent synthesis.

The committee will share a report that includes best practices and recommendations for those who work in prevention and response, including policymakers, first responders, and researchers.

“The evolving terrorism landscape in the U.S. requires an increased capacity for identifying and addressing chemical threats,” said CEHC Dean Robert Griffin. “The roster of leaders assembled to support this NASEM effort, including Dr. Ackerman, is impressive and will yield critical information and guidance needed to counter these emerging threats.”

“It is a great honor to be selected by the Academies to participate in this study,” said Ackerman, an associate professor at CEHC and its associate dean for research. “Chemical technologies, adversary ideologies and geopolitics are constantly evolving, requiring us to reevaluate the threat of terrorists using toxic chemicals on a large scale. I look forward, together with my fellow committee members to serve our nation by conducting a thorough assessment of current and emerging threats in this domain.”

Terrorist Use of Unconventional Weapons

Ackerman specializes in terrorist decision making, with much of his work centered on the motivations and capabilities for non-state actors to acquire and use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. He has headed more than ten large government-sponsored research projects in the past five years dealing with various aspects of counterterrorism policy and operations. 

In addition to his faculty position, Ackerman directs UAlbany’s Center for Advanced Red Teaming (CART), a first-of-its-kind research and education center that is focused on advancing the science and art of red teaming exercises in support of national security, cybersecurity and emergency preparedness.

He is also the founding director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), and the former director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. 

Ackerman was previously a member of the WMD Expert Advisory Group of the Information Sharing Environment initiative, Office of the Director for National Intelligence (2007-2008) and has testified on terrorist motivations for using nuclear weapons before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security.