A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Minneapolis native, Dartmouth senior finds her niche in Md.


Minneapolis native, Dartmouth senior finds her niche in Md.

START Intern Spotlight: Blaine Ponto

July 22, 2013Emily Smith
Blaine Ponto is all over the place, in every sense of the phrase. Ponto is living in Washington, D.C., this summer to intern with START's special projects team. Ponto, a Minneapolis native, is a rising senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A research assistant working at Dartmouth who previously interned with the Consortium, Elaine Brown, introduced Ponto to the prospect of interning with START after they shared a discussion about terrorism and the Middle East.
Blaine Ponto "I really enjoy learning about the impact of culture and ideology on the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa, and how these factors have influenced policy decisions, as well as how those policy decisions have contributed to the current conflict," Ponto said.
At Dartmouth, Ponto majors in Asian and Middle Eastern studies, with a minor in linguistics. Her diverse interests have driven her to explore individual radicalization at START. Ponto's project at START involves identifying and developing in-depth profiles of individuals who have radicalized to the point of ideological violence. Her daily work includes updating datasets of identified radicals in North America and assessing individuals' change in radical beliefs and behaviors over time.


Ponto is the self-proclaimed START intern social chair, and enjoys exploring D.C., "dominating trivia nights" and relaxing at post-work events with her fellow interns. During the school year, Ponto is a member of the Dartmouth marching band and serves on the college's EMS squad, as well as working with the school's outdoors club. As for her future, Ponto simply plans on "escaping monotony."

She intends to explore opportunities within the homeland security enterprise.

"My proximity to Washington, in addition to my position with START, has offered me a variety of connections to explore the opportunities available to me," she said.

"One of the nice parts about the field of terrorism and turbulent places like the Middle East is that you never know when something is going to completely shake up your understanding of the situation and send you back to the drawing board; I love those moments."

START is home to 91 interns this summer, hailing from 33 collegiate institutions across the country.

"I am immensely enjoying the profusion of interns from all over doing all kinds of cool work," Ponto said.

To learn more about START's internship program, click here.