ACU alumna's work contributes to homeland security

Posted May 28, 2010

Claudia RandolphAs the threat of chemical warfare becomes an ever more frightening possibility, Abilene Christian University alumna Dr. Claudia Randolph is helping firefighters and first responders respond more quickly and effectively to potentially dangerous chemicals. Her research is part of  ITT Corporation's DOMAIN/Chemical database, a source of vital information for first responders.

The chemical database contains information about more than 1,300 industrial chemicals, including physical properties of the substances, requirements for storage and handling, and the uses of more than 300 types of related equipment.

When there is a threat from hazardous chemicals, whether due to an accidental spill or a deliberate terrorist action, the speed of the correct response is vitally important, says Dr. Kim Pamplin, chair of ACU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. "Even with all the training possible for first responders and hazardous materials crews, correct identification of the hazard can be difficult. Dr. Randolph and her colleagues at ITT have produced a system that aids emergency workers with fast identification and guidance with equipment," he says.

Emergency personnel can type the names of chemicals or physical characteristics into the system and learn how to handle the materials safely and disarm the situation. Already, troops in Iraq have used the database to identify stashes of chemicals in private homes, which may have been intended for bomb assembly. ITT has sold more than 50 licenses to use the database.

"Dr. Randolph exemplifies the leadership and service that we like to see in so many of our graduates," says Pamplin.

Randolph graduated from ACU with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1981 and went on to get her doctorate in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985. She has served as the vice president for ITT's Advanced Engineering & Sciences business since 2002.

To learn more about ACU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit ACU's website.


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