Mohammed is an Information Systems major who will graduate in 2021. He is a member of the Honors College, a McNair Scholar, i3 Scholar, and Mellon Fellow.
Title of your research project: An Unholy Alliance: Christian Identity Extremists and ICTs
Describe your project: This project examines how the Christian Identity Movement (CIM) has infiltrated the larger white extremist digital community, aiming to understand the relationship between white extremists, Christian Identity, technology, and social media.
Who is your mentor(s) for your project? For this summer project, my mentor was Dr. Kathleen Moore from James Madison University. However, building upon the summer project, I am currently partaking in Islamist extremist research on Twitterspace under the mentorship and guidance of Dr. Anupam Joshi from CSEE. I approached Dr. Joshi after developing an interest in online extremism research especially because Dr. Joshi has historically supported students partaking in research and social media analysis.
How did you become interested in this project? Countering extremism remains a charged topic in modern society, but because society's most vulnerable populations (such as youth) are at-risk when it comes to online extremism, it becomes an obligation to devise strategies and develop tools to fight online terrorism at all costs. My research aims to utilize my personal interest and combine it with public advocacy issues in order to create a more equitable and pluralistic society.
What has been the hardest part about your research/what was the most unexpected thing about being a researcher? Beginning is always the hardest part about research. But research in itself, especially when combined with dedicated mentorship, can be very fulfilling when accompanied with a meaningful process.
What has been the most rewarding part? My research is not just theoretical; it is applied as well. I thoroughly enjoy utilizing both my personal experience and skills as a counterterrorism advocate with Quilliam International to have an impactful applied research experience.
How will you disseminate your research My research will be presented at URCAD on April 22. Recently, my research was also selected for poster presentation at iConference in Borås, Sweden and with UMBC and Johns Hopkins' support, I am looking forward to presenting my findings with my i3 research group at the conference!
What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research? Turn to your peers and mentors and apply for any meaningful opportunity. If you have a personal interest in the research project, it will only allow you to be more fully vested in what you want to do. If you are just beginning, there will be many lessons to learn. Don't ever consider yourself as just a researcher, but also a learner for life.
What are your career goals? I hope to continue my studies all the way to obtaining my PhD and serve as a cybersecurity analyst developing social media moderating tools to counter extremists of all stripes, whether it is far-left, far-right, or religious extremism.