Sandia Labs vice president speaks on mitigating bioterror threats

Sandia National Laboratories, an Albuquerque, New Mexico-based research facility operated by Sandia Corporation, must continue to work at all times to counteract biological, chemical and radiological threats, a lab official said on Friday.

Jill Hruby, the vice president of International, Homeland and Nuclear Security at the facility, said that even when threats of terrorism do not seem as imminent, Sandia Labs needs to anticipate the terrorists' next move.

"Even when the public is not feeling a sense of danger, national security research facilities like Sandia National Laboratories still need to be on the job, anticipating what's going to happen and avoiding technological surprise from those who wish to harm the U.S.," Hruby said.

Hruby spoke on Sunday as part of the Discovery and Innovation in Science and Engineering Security Technologies symposium at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2014 Annual Meeting in Chicago. Her talk, called "Mitigating the Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Threat," focused on discussing Sandia's role in the national security effort.

During the talk, Hruby presented engineering, technological and scientific capabilities that are being directed to help the U.S. and its allies mitigate biological, chemical and radiological threats. The technologies are based on research conducted at Sandia.

Hruby said that the best way to prepare for future threats is by creating solutions using a systems approach and multidisciplinary technical skills to show where the U.S. is most vulnerable.

"In the years after (September 11, 2001) many of the 'easy' problems were solved, enhancing our security, but also leaving the U.S. with the more difficult systems-level problems to address," Hruby said. "At the same time, the risks will continue to increase and change quickly, so we need to think ahead as much as possible so our federal systems can respond."

Hruby said that going forward, the national security research community must balance sustaining current systems with the need to improve technologies and respond to novel threats.

Sandia National Laboratories has significant research and development responsibilities in national security, environmental and energy technologies and economic competitiveness. Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., operates the facility for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.