Tuesday, March 5, 2013

MIIS student wins U.S. State Department award on arms control challenge

Lovely Umayam, a graduate student at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, was awarded the $5,000 first prize in the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance. The competition invited members of the public to submit innovative approaches to using commonly available technologies to support arms control policy efforts, and drew more than 500 submissions.

Umayam developed “Bombshelltoe", a website that examines the intersection of popular culture and nuclear issues to better inform the public about nuclear and arms control-related issues.

“In the nonproliferation field I’ve noticed that we take for granted some basic knowledge, like the difference between uranium and plutonium,” said Umayam. “But the public is starting with zero knowledge, and usually they get their knowledge from movies and TV shows and so forth.”

Umayam, a student in the master of arts in nonproliferation and terrorism studies program, describes the goal of Bombshelltoe as being “to foster a more meaningful conversation about arms control issues” by exploring the intersection between nuclear policy and pop culture.

“Lovely is an amazing young woman, whose is equally adept in nonproliferation and social media,” MIIS Professor William Potter said. “She has found a creative way to marry the two subjects, and by so doing, help to combat ignorance and complacency about one of our greatest security challenges.”

The Innovation in Arms Control Challenge is aimed at “exploring new ideas to help reshape its approaches to the security challenges in the 21st century," according to the State Department. "In creating opportunities for public participation, we aim to harness the networks, technologies, and human potential that can help of combat the threats in our increasingly interdependent and interconnected world.”

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