Skip To Content Skip To Left Navigation
NSF Logo Search GraphicGuide To Programs GraphicImage Library GraphicSite Map GraphicHelp GraphicPrivacy Policy Graphic
OLPA Header Graphic

Media Advisory


NSF PA/M 03-21 - April 23, 2003

Game Theorist Todd Sandler to Speak at NSF on New Trends in Transnational Terrorism

In 1989, a young Iowa State University professor of economics and political science received a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to study the economics and effectiveness of policies intended to thwart terrorism. The resulting paper Todd Sandler and colleague Walter Enders published in The American Political Science Review in 1993, "Effectiveness of Antiterrorism Policies: A Vector-Autoregression-Intervention Analysis," offered a groundbreaking model for future U.S. policy considerations in response to terrorism activities.

Sandler, now an endowed professor at the University of Southern California, and Enders, an endowed professor at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, will receive a National Academy of Sciences' Estes Award on April 28 for basic research in cognitive or behavioral science that advances the understanding of issues relating to nuclear threats, and for their empirical and theoretical work on terrorism.

Sandler will speak at NSF on April 28 from 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. on applying game theory -- the mutual response of two thinking, rational agents, such as terrorist groups and government -- to the study of transnational terrorism. "The results are different if you treat one of the agents as passive," Sandler suggests.

Sandler and Enders have developed predictive models that show government security measures can actually increase some forms of terrorism. Increased airport security, for example, has been correlated with an increase in hostage taking. Sandler also showed that a greater emphasis on securing physical facilities at embassies effectively "transferred" or "substituted" terrorists' activities toward embassy people when they move among less secured locations. He believes this substitution of terror from facilities to people is an unintended consequence of security policies.

Media are invited to attend Sandler's lecture, and to conduct interviews with him its conclusion. Preview interviews may also be conducted with Sandler by telephone on Friday, April 25 by calling the contact below.



Todd Sandler, Robert R. and Katheryn A. Dockson Professor of International Relations and Economics, University of Southern California


Distinguished Lecture, "An Economic Perspective of Transnational Terrorism"


1:00-2:00 p.m.,
Monday, April 28, 2003


National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110 (Enter at 9th " Stuart Sts. Entrance)
Arlington, Va.

For more information on Sandler's background and work, see:

For more information contact:

Media contact:

 Bill Noxon

 (703) 292-8070


NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering, with an annual budget of nearly $5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 30,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 10,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $200 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

Receive official NSF news electronically through the e-mail delivery system, NSFnews. To subscribe, send an e-mail message to In the body of the message, type "subscribe nsfnews" and then type your name. (Ex.: "subscribe nsfnews John Smith")

Useful Web Sites:
NSF Home Page:
News Highlights:
Science Statistics:
Awards Searches:



National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22230, USA
Tel: 703-292-8070
FIRS: 800-877-8339 | TDD: 703-292-5090

NSF Logo Graphic