2010 Firestone Medal and Perry Prize recipients selected

Stanford seniors Sam Stone and Ashley Lohmann have been awarded the Firestone Medal and Perry Prize, respectively, for their theses on energy import dependence and the Jihadist terrorist threat to the United States since 9/11.

Stone and Lohmann discussed their findings during a CISAC seminar on June 2. Their papers are available below.

The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research recognizes the top 10 percent of all honors theses in social science, science and engineering. The William J. Perry Prize is awarded to a student for excellence in policy-relevant research in international security studies. Both recipients are students in CISAC's Undergraduate Honors Program in International Security Studies, directed this year by Senior Fellow Stephen J. Stedman and Thomas Fingar, the Oksenberg/Rohlen Fellow.

Sam Stone, a student in the Department of Mathematics and Program in International Relations, wrote "Gas & Geopolitics: The Foreign Policy Implications of Energy Import Dependency."

Stone's thesis abstract states: "In recent years, much attention has focused on the dangers of dependency on energy imports. Fears of energy import dependency are particularly acute in Eastern Europe, where most countries remain heavily dependent on Russian gas, but similarly dependent relationships exist across the globe. Most energy security research focuses on exporters; this thesis contributes to the study of energy security by exploring the effects of energy dependence on importers."

During 2010-11 academic year, Stone, as a Fulbright Fellow, will study Russian foreign policy, in particular energy security issues and nuclear nonproliferation efforts at Moscow State University. He also plans to continue working with the Stanford US-Russia Forum, an initiative that brings together American and Russian students to explore global issues.

Ashley Lohmann, a student in the Program in International Relations, wrote, "Jihad on Main Street: Explaining the Threat of Jihadist Terrorism to the American Homeland since 9/11."

Lohmann's abstract states: "Since September 11, 2001, 26 jihadist plots and attacks have targeted the American homeland, but because the details of the plots and attacks as well as the profiles of their perpetrators vary greatly, scholars, government officials, and other authorities still disagree about the seriousness of threat posed by jihadist terrorism to the United States. This study provides a clearer understanding of the nature of jihadist terrorism in the U.S. by examining all 26 plots and attacks in detail. It concludes that jihadist terrorism is generally a minimally threatening, homegrown phenomenon, but some plots and attacks still emerge that do pose a serious threat to U.S. national security."

Stedman and Fingar described the award-winning theses as the very best in an exceptionally strong field of submissions by members of this year's honor's class.  "Sam Stone's creative and rigorous use of case studies and 'large N' data to to examine hypotheses about the effects of energy dependence gives decision makers theoretical and empirical tools to anticipate and ameliorate unwanted consequences of dependence on foreign sources of oil and gas," Fingar said. "Ashley Lohmann's rigorous examination of factors contributing to the success or failure of Jihadist threats to the American homeland provides valuable insights on the magnitude and character of such threats and how best to address them. These were the best, but other theses were also worthy of special recognition and we learned much from the work of every member of the class."