Chief Thomas Engells Memorial Scholarship in Biothreat Response 2019

biosecurity simulation




Thomas Engells, Adjunct Associate Professor and the Chief of Police at the University of Texas Medical Branch since 2010, passed away suddenly in 2018 at age 59. Chief Engells was Adjunct Associate Professor at SPHCM, UNSW, and worked on both teaching and research with UNSW academics. He taught in the UNSW course on Bioterrorism and Health Intelligence, where he delivered lectures on Insider Threat in laboratories and on his experience with the disaster response during Hurricane Harvey in his home town of Houston in 2017. He was an affiliate of an NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence, ISER. Chief Engells was a law enforcement officer for the University of Texas System for more than 34 years and had twice been named the system’s police chief of the year, in 2011 and 2014. He was responsible for biosecurity at The National Laboratory in Galveston, Texas, a Biosafety Level 4 laboratory that conducts research on highly infectious diseases, such as Ebola. His experience with the Galveston National Laboratory together with his law enforcement and military background gave him a unique insight into biosecurity. He published several scholarly papers on biosecurity in the medical literature, highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in protecting global biosecurity. His expertise was sought widely on expert committees within the US and overseas, and he was a leader in biosecurity with true vision and fortitude.

We have been privileged at UNSW to benefit in both teaching and research from his expertise, and to get to know him as a colleague and friend.

Chief Engells was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. For 20 years he served as assessor and team leader for the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Chief Engells grew up in Austin, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas in 1979. He received a master’s degree in criminal justice


from Sam Houston State University and a master’s in homeland security and defense from the U.S. Naval postgraduate school in 2005.

In a testament to his unique, insightful and scholarly approach to the multidisciplinary field of biosecurity, we have established a scholarship to ensure his legacy continues in the next generation of national security professionals. This scholarship aims to find talented individuals in law enforcement or defense in the United States to build on his unique legacy in biosecurity.


What does the scholarship provide:

The scholarship, funded by the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute, UNSW, will provide the winner with their airfare and accommodation to attend an exclusive, invitation-only event, Pacific Eclipse, on December 9-10 2019 at one of the three sites below. This closed event is for high level government and non-government stakeholders in biosecurity and is hosted by The PLuS Alliance and Stratium Global It is an immersive biothreat simulation at three sites across the USA (Washington DC, Phoenix and Honolulu), with cooperation from US Indo-Pacific Command.

An interactive tabletop exercise (TTX), using a hypothetical unknown epidemic arising in the Pacific, will be conducted. The TTX focus is to assess inter-agency and international response to a pandemic disaster. Tensions between global, national and local priorities will be tested using interactive polling and live decision making.

Immediate feedback will be provided on the impact of decisions about resources and operations using mathematical modelling of the epidemic.

The event will run over two half-days to allow different time zones to participate conveniently. Debriefing on identified gaps will be integrated into the TTX. A range of high-profile international experts from health, defence, law enforcement and emergency management, from government and non-government organisations, will provide expert input and real-world examples relevant to the TTX.

This event focuses on cross-disciplinary response at global, national and local levels in several countries, and aspects of preparedness which are often taken for granted. It will challenge you to think outside your own discipline, remit and jurisdiction.

Participants will come to the event ‘cold’, with no prior briefing or preparation. No individual or sector will be singled out or tested – instead, group decision making will be reviewed in a safe and collaborative environment.



Professional in law enforcement or defence forces in a Five Eyes country (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) who either

  1. Is in a leadership role which requires awareness of biothreats


  1. Is pursuing higher education in the study of counter-terrorism, defense, homeland security or biosecurity.


Deadline for submission: August 23rd 2019


Requirements for submission:

Curriculum vitae and 1 page candidate statement outlining why you wish to apply and how it will benefit your career. Submit applications to: with the subject header “Application for The Engells Scholarship 2019”.