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Washington State University
WSU Research National Security

National security

Fundamental research to protect America

The challenge

The 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy presents a vision for protecting U.S. interests in an insecure world. Notable elements include preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, strengthening America’s critical infrastructure (energy systems, roads, bridges, water systems, and more), and reducing hunger. Also included is the need to prevent, detect, and rapidly respond to biological threats through the Global Health Security Agenda.

WSU’s role in the solution

Working across disciplines, WSU scholars conduct fundamental research that specifically addresses national security challenges.

Preserving strategic stability

WSU hosts the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Institute for Shock Physics, one of the world’s premier university laboratories for the study of matter at extreme conditions. In addition, scientists in WSU’s Nuclear Radiation Center collaborate with U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.

Strengthening America’s Infrastructure

WSU’s Institute for Sustainable Design pioneers changes to the design and construction of the built environment. The Composite Materials and Engineering Center develops new building materials from a range of recycled and virgin resources.

Reducing hunger

WSU researchers across many disciplines take aim at the tragedy of world hunger, the number one risk to health worldwide.1 For example, the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources seeks ways to make food production sustainable in the face of climate change.

Addressing biological threats

Scientists in WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health work to control the emergence and spread of antibiotic resistance worldwide. They also develop novel methods to predict and control life-threatening infectious diseases that originate in animals. They create vaccines to control major diseases in livestock that cripple economic progress in developing nations.

1. World Food Programme

Within this Grand Challenge, scholars address several research themes, touching on issues like these:

Matter at extreme conditions

Its application to fundamental science and support of U.S. nuclear security

  • Fundamental material properties at extremes of temperature and pressure
  • Computational materials science
  • Advancing nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear safeguard goals through basic research

More about matter at extreme conditions

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Nuclear nonproliferation

Advancing goals and safeguards through basic research

  • Actinide science, which deals with radioactive elements
  • Radioanalytical methods for nuclear forensics and treaty verification

More about nuclear nonproliferation

Advancement of developing countries

Community-based approach to development of agriculture and education to improve quality of life

  • Agricultural extension projects
  • Reforestation
  • Expanded educational opportunities and attainment
  • Sustainable rural enterprises and livelihoods
  • Economic, behavioral, social, and cultural influencers

More about advancement of developing countries

Global health security

Disease detection, prevention, and response in developing areas

  • Disease surveillance, monitoring, and associated computational modeling
  • Innovative solutions to infectious disease
  • Health care access in rural and underserved areas
  • Economic, behavioral, social, and cultural influencers of health and economic security

More about global health security


WSU’s collaboration with leading scientists accelerates innovation that protects America from domestic and global threats. Key partners include the following:


Affiliated institutes, centers, and programs

Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach  (CEREO)

Academic and industry leaders applying innovative technologies and management tools to the challenges of global climate change and environmental sustainability

Center for Materials Research

Finding interdisciplinary answers to advanced materials science problems

Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

Conducts research and provides education on critical issues facing agriculture, such as climate change, energy and water security, and ways to make agricultural production systems more sustainable

Composite Materials & Engineering Center

Develops new building materials from recycled and virgin resources, as well as innovative structural systems

Institute for Shock Physics

Examining and understanding physical and chemical changes in solids and liquids under very rapid and large compressions

Institute for Shock Physics Applied Sciences Laboratory

Focuses on solving problems for industry and government agencies in areas that include energy, national security, advanced materials, and sensors applications

Institute for Sustainable Design

Uniting faculty, students, design professionals, manufacturers, and suppliers to solve societal problems of sustainability

International Research and Agricultural Development Program

Raising the quality of life in developing countries through agricultural and educational projects that utilize local talent and cultural practices

Nuclear Radiation Center

The only research reactor in the state of Washington

Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

Experts in infectious disease research whose extensive global health outreach safeguards animal health (with an emphasis on livestock), protects food supplies, creates more economically secure families and communities, and advances public health across continents

Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service

Supporting public affairs education, engaging students in public service, and supporting academic research on public policy and democratic institutions

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (WADDL)

A full-service diagnostic reference facility that safeguards the health of livestock, pets, poultry, and fish in the Pacific Northwest and protects the public from zoonotic diseases, or animal diseases that can infect humans

Further information

Find out more about the University’s research pertaining to national security.

National Security (pdf)