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9/11 changed everything. 20 years later, FIU professors reflect on its lasting impact

9/11 changed everything. 20 years later, FIU professors reflect on its lasting impact

September 9, 2021 at 6:00pm

The aftershocks of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, continue to reverberate today. 9/11 changed the way the U.S. engages in war. It changed the experience of immigration and travel in and out of the country. It changed the way we build skyscrapers. It changed the way we care for first responders’ health. It changed the way we care for those affected by massive tragedies, near and far.

On the 20th anniversary of the tragedy that destroyed New York’s World Trade Center towers and claimed the lives of thousands there, in Washington, D.C., and Somerset County, Pa., 10 FIU experts from the fields of forensics, education, international relations, law, and other disciplines reflected on the impact of 9/11. The question they all answered: “How did 9/11 change your field of study over the last 20 years?”

Hear their stories:

G. Alex Crowther, Visiting Research Professor, Cybersecurity@FIU, Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs

Alex Crowther, FIU visiting research professor, discusses the shift in war tactics he witnessed after the 9/11 attacks. At FIU he educates future intelligence professionals on cybercrime and information operations commonly used as war tactics today.

“Our adversaries are working against the U.S. in what’s considered the gray zone.”

G. Alex Crowther

Dr. Roberto Lucchini, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

Dr. Roberto Lucchini, FIU professor of environmental health sciences, explains which tools we now have available to monitor and protect first responders and victims of disasters. Read his recent article on lessons learned.

“There are diseases that can be developed many years later, so we need to follow [9/11 first responders], and we need to provide assistance, care, and screening.”

Dr. Roberto Lucchini

Jonathan Comer, Professor of Psychology, Center for Children and Families, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Jonathan Comer, FIU psychology professor, shifted his focus after the 9/11 attacks to studying child anxiety in the face of terrorism threats. Today, he works with FIU colleagues to train youth-serving professionals on skills needed for psychological trauma recovery.

“9/11 research upended… the idea that the closer you were to the event, the worse the mental health toll.”

Jonathan Comer

Max Houck, Graduate Program Director, Professional Science Master's in Forensic Science

Chemist Max Houck explains the advances in disaster victim identification and new technology that can be used for timely analysis on-scene. At FIU, he is at the forefront of critical research and evaluation of key features that can continue to improve forensic science. 

“There are handheld devices that put chemistry and science right at the scene, so that you can have standoff detection of dangerous or potentially dangerous materials, sometimes even in a container.”

Max Houck

Bruce Vitor, Associate Director of Research Innovation, Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Bruce Vitor, associate director of research innovation for the Gordon Institute, discusses the additional challenges that military families face today. At FIU, he is part of an innovation hub that identifies security challenges and works with experts to prepare for the next possible crisis.

“When we saw the World Trade Center hit, I didn’t know how it would change my life and how it would change the military as a whole.”

Bruce Vitor

Juan Carlos Gomez, Director of the Carlos A. Costa Immigration & Human Rights Clinic, College of Law

Juan Carlos Gomez, director of FIU’s Carlos A. Costa Immigration & Human Rights Clinic, discusses the lasting effects of 9/11 on immigrants. 

“We are giving up our freedom because of fear.”

Juan Carlos Gomez

Atorod Azizinamini, Director of the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability, College of Engineering and Computing

Atorod Azizinamini, FIU professor of structural engineering, discusses how 9/11 changed the approach to high-rise building design and construction to avoid collapse.

“Right at that moment, I knew [9/11] would change the structural engineering approach to high-rise building design and construction.”

Atorod Azizinamini

Randy Pestana, Assistant Director of Research and Strategic Initiatives at the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Randy Pestana, FIU assistant director of research and strategic initiatives for the Gordon Institute, discusses how 9/11 impacted security in Latin America and how terrorists leverage technology and social media to recruit and spread misinformation. He educates students to become future intelligence professionals that help fight today’s cyber terrorists.

“What we often lose sight of was the impact that 9/11 had on other fields unrelated to the Middle East.”

Randy Pestana

Laura Dinehart, Dean for the School of Education and Human Development, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Laura Dinehart, dean of FIU’s School of Education and Human Development, addresses how the magnitude of the trauma experienced during 9/11 has impacted early childhood education. At FIU, she ensures future teachers are prepared to go into the classroom and provide trauma-informed care when needed.

“We think that kids don’t know what is really happening, but they are so much more attuned than we realize.”

Laura Dinehart

John Thomas, Associate Professor of Hospitality Law, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management

John Thomas, FIU associate professor of hospitality law, discusses the shift in travel and tourism. Increased security standards were put in place nationwide to ensure safety in tourism travel and large-scale events.

“Security standards have increased dramatically, and so the standards of law have also required increased security for the legal protection of those businesses.”

John Thomas

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