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Source: Justin Kastner, 785-532-4820,
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847,

Monday, Nov. 1, 2010


MANHATTAN -- A group of Kansas State University undergraduate and graduate students received an exclusive look at border security during a recent field trip to Washington, D.C., and the Port of Baltimore.

Through the Frontier program, the students met with U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials who are responsible for making sure containers of food that come into the Baltimore port are safely and properly inspected.

The students also received career insight and valuable information for research projects with the Frontier program, a cooperative educational program between K-State and New Mexico State University that focuses on border security, food security and trade policy.

"Border cooperation and border security are complex matters," said K-State's Justin Kastner, co-director of the Frontier Program and assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. "It's important that students be encouraged to develop the depth of insight regarding the complexity of those issues."

The field trip included 16 students from K-State, New Mexico State, the University of Minnesota, Michigan State University and the University of Arizona. Seven students were K-State students who share an interest in issues related to food protection, food defense and border security.

"We want to give them opportunities, such as the field trip to Baltimore, to learn about the complexity of agriculture, the food system and international trade," Kastner said. "We want to learn how to help ensure the security of our food supply."

For many students, the weekend trip provided an opportunity to talk with government officials and gain insight for their research projects.

"It is surprising that there are so many people involved in port security," said K-State's Shweta Gopalakrishnan, master's student in public health, India, who is researching the significance of public-private partnerships in health and trade security. "The U.S. imports goods worth billions of dollars each year. Everybody should play their role and act properly to have a safe country."

Julianne Jensby, senior in food science, Beatrice, Neb., was especially excited to see the Port of Baltimore after viewing a border crossing at the U.S.-Mexico border last year with the Frontier Program.

"It was interesting to compare and contrast how inspections are set up at a land crossing versus a seaport. There are differences based on the types of products that were imported to those places, and differences in infrastructures and cargo containers," said Jensby, who is studying how to secure borders against public health threats and how governance can help prevent the spread of disease.

After the tour, some students attended Career Pathways, a Department of Homeland Security-sponsored weekend conference for students who received Career Development grants. The conference offered career guidance and a chance for students to explore employment opportunities with the DHS.

"We take very seriously our mission as faculty and staff to provide as many interesting and meaningful learning opportunities as we can, and that's why we do the field trips for the Frontier students," Kastner said.

Steven Toburen, program coordinator for the Frontier Interdisciplinary eXperiences, or FIX, program, and Web developer for K-State's department of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, and Colleen Cochran, research assistant in diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, attended the trip. Jason Ackleson, co-director of the Frontier Program and associate professor of government at New Mexico State, also attended.

Other K-State students on the trip included Nicole Dorr, senior in food science and industry, Derby; Tara Lopez, master's student in public health, Manhattan; Kelsey Rezac, junior in food science and industry, Onaga; Chelsea Stephens, master's student in public health, Dodge City; and Manoelita Warkentien, master's student in biomedical science, Wichita.