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Immediate Release

Department of Defense Awards $2.8 Million for Collaborative University Social Science Research Under the Minerva Research Initiative

The Department of Defense today announced the selection of seven DoD–university faculty teams to pursue fundamental social science research through the FY 2023 Defense Education and Civilian University Research (DECUR) Partnership, a program under the department's Minerva Research Initiative.

DECUR aims to develop collaborative relationships between Defense Professional Military Education institutions and civilian research universities to improve capacities in security-related basic social science research, inform DoD policymakers' understanding of the social and cultural forces shaping U.S. strategic interests globally, train future military leaders in social science methods, and enhance scientific cooperation between civilian and military educational institutions.

DECUR falls within the Minerva Research Initiative, DoD's singular program to connect with the social science community for basic research on areas of particular relevance to U.S. national security. Through its network of faculty investigators, Minerva helps DoD better understand and prepare for future challenges, particularly those prioritized in the National Defense Strategy. The initiative is funded by the Basic Research Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), who administers the program jointly with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research. Minerva also works closely with the Strategy Office in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.

"The DECUR Partnership facilitates exciting opportunities for civilian universities and DoD educational institutions to collaborate, linking researchers and students to create knowledge and methodologies that advance our understanding of national security challenges," said Dr. David Montgomery, director of social science in OUSD(R&E).

The seven projects selected for award are:

Topic 1: Socio-economic Vulnerability to Climate Change

  • Kash Barker (University of Oklahoma) and Ashly Townsen (Air War College) – Temporal Networks of Environmental Refugee Relocation: Security and Socioeconomic Impacts

Topic 2: Deterrence in the Future Operating Environment

  • Erica Lonergan (Columbia University) and Benjamin Jensen (Marine Corps University) – Crisis and Competition at the Space-Cyber Nexus
  • Amy Holmes (George Washington University) and Andrew Novo (National Defense University) – Meta-Conflict and Integrated Deterrence: Adversaries, Problematic Allies, and Non-state Actors: Territorial and Maritime Expansion by Turkey, Russia, and China

Topic 3: Russian Speakers in Online Spaces

  • Karrie Koesel (University of Notre Dame) and Aleksandar Matovski (Naval Postgraduate School) – Kremlin Influence Operations in Online Spaces
  • Catherine Luther (University of Tennessee) and Jahara Matisek (Naval War College) – Identifying Patterns of Russia's Malign Influence Operations in Online Spaces and Their Influences on Russian-Speaking Populations and Russian Diasporas

Topic 4: Power and Influence in the Era of Strategic Competition

  • Alvin Camba (University at Denver) and Covell Meyskens (Naval Postgraduate School) – Comparing U.S. and Chinese Relational Power in Southeast Asia
  • Azamat Junisbai (Pitzer College) and Erica Marat (National Defense University) – Influence but Not Power (Yet): Decolonial Developments in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and North Asia

For more information on the Minerva Research Initiative, visit here.

About USD(R&E)

The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (USD(R&E)) is the Chief Technology Officer of the Department of Defense. The USD(R&E) champions research, science, technology, engineering, and innovation to maintain the U.S. military's technological advantage. Learn more at, follow us on Twitter @DoDCTO, or visit us on LinkedIn at