The vision of the Regulatory Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is to always be the definitive source of information on developing and implementing regulatory policy based on science and technology.  In order to achieve this primary objective, the mission of RSEC is to ensure its activities successfully achieve the following:

  1. Build and maintain a comprehensive library of knowledge regarding the science behind making regulatory policy and the history that created the foundations of our current regulatory practices.
  2. Create projects and opportunities that furthers the understanding (and application) of regulatory science and engineering.
  3. Serve as a resource center for all individuals or organizations that attempt to practice regulatory science by establishing (and evolving) various tools and processes that can assist in the practice of using science and technology in developing regulatory policies (i.e. doing regulatory science).

Taken together, the basic mission of RSEC is to inform the field of regulatory science by communicating regulatory science and engineering to the public, and provide advice to government agencies, academia and industry about applying regulatory science and engineering practices to their development and implementation of regulatory policy.


If RSEC is not continually using quality science and engineering practices to assist those who develop and implement regulatory policies then the Center is failing at its mission.



"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it."

-Henry David Thoreau 


RSEC Core Staff

Charles MuellerResearch Associate in the CEO’s office and a CReST Fellow at the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought.  Dr. Mueller works on identifying important S&T regulatory issues and developing sound regulatory policy solutions founded in the best available science.  Additionally, Dr. Mueller is the lead on a project with the Office of Corrosion Policy and Oversight within the Department of Defense  (DoD) that is attempting to optimize the DoD’s current Corrosion Prevention and Control strategies by applying regulatory science & engineering principles.

Prior to joining the Potomac Institute, Dr. Mueller obtained his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Maryland’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in 2014.  His dissertation involved the characterization of two putative DNA metabolizing enzymes in the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans and required a combination of molecular biology, cell biology, microscopy, and biochemical analyses.  Before obtaining his doctorate he obtained a B.A. in Chemistry from Elon University and then worked at the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health studying the effects of selenium on cancer using both live mouse models and tissue cultures.

Dr. Mueller is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Brian BarnettBrian Barnett is a Research Assistant at the  Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in the CEO’s Office.  Brian Barnett currently provides research and analytic support to guide discovery of innovative, non-traditional solutions and develop technology assessments for the Rapid Reaction Technology Office (RRTO) in its mission to enable new, affordable capabilities. He also performs research for the Center for Neurotechnology Studies (CNS), where he creates analyses and policy recommendations for leveraging the benefits of neuroscience. Brian organizes events, conferences, and discussions for both RRTO and CNS at the Institute and at other venues, by interfacing and coordinating with government officials, venture capitalists, commercial leaders and academics. He obtained his B.S. in Neurobiology & Physiology at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he completed an undergraduate thesis investigating the behavioral and neural components of an animal model of ADHD. He also contributed to publications on the valuation and representation of reward within the rat fronto-striatal​ circuit.

syerspDr. Paul Syers joined the Potomac Institute in September 2015 as a Research Associate and CReST Fellow. His current projects focus on policies regulating corrosion and materials degradation and the activities of the Center for Revolutionary Scientific Thought (CReST).

Dr. Syers received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Maryland, having researched methods for improving the material quality of topological insulators. Prior to that, Paul received a B.S. In Physics from Emory University and an M. Phil from the University of Cambridge for research on high temperature superconductors.

Dr. Becky McCauley Rench joins the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies as a Research Associate in the S&T Policy Division and as a 2015 CReST Fellow in the Center for Revolutionary Thought (CReST).

Prior to joining the Potomac Institute, Dr. McCauley Rench successfully defended her Ph.D. in Geosciences and Astrobiology at the Pennsylvania State University in 2015. Her graduate work focused on the diversity and metabolic potential of cave microbial communities as they relate to early Earth analog environments and the search for life. A West Virginia native, she completed her undergraduate schooling at West Virginia University and holds a B.A. in Biology and a B.A. in Chemistry. Before starting her graduate education and after obtaining her B.A. degrees, Dr. McCauley Rench participated in disaster preparedness response as an AmeriCorps member in San Francisco.

Dr. McCauley Rench is a Truman Scholar and NSF Graduate Research Fellow.

RSEC Senior Advisory Board

Michael Swetnam, CEO Michael Swetnam assisted in founding the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies in 1994. Since its inception, he has served as Chairman of the Board and currently serves as the Institute's Chief Executive Officer.

He has authored and edited several books and articles including: "Al-Qa'ida: Ten Years After 9/11 and Beyond," co-authored with Yonah Alexander; "Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare," a four volume set he co-edited; "Usama bin Laden's al-Qaida: Profile of a Terrorist Network," co-authored with Yonah Alexander; "ETA: Profile of a Terrorist Group," co-authored with Yonah Alexander and Herbert M. Levine; and "Best Available Science: Its Evolution, Taxonomy, and Application," co-authored with Dennis K. McBride, A. Alan Moghissi, Betty R. Love and Sorin R. Straja.

Mr. Swetnam is currently a member of the Technical Advisory Group to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. In this capacity, he provides expert advice to the U.S. Senate on the R&D investment strategy of the U.S. Intelligence Community. He also served on the Defense Science Board (DSB) Task Force on Counterterrorism and the Task Force on Intelligence Support to the War on Terrorism.

From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Swetnam served as a Special Consultant to President Bush's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) where he provided expert advice on Intelligence Community issues including budget, community architecture, and major programs. He also assisted in authoring the Board's assessment of Intelligence Community support to Desert Storm/Shield.

Prior to forming the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, Mr. Swetnam worked in private industry as a Vice President of Engineering at the Pacific-Sierra Research Corporation, Director of Information Processing Systems at GTE, and Manager of Strategic Planning for GTE Government Systems.

Prior to joining GTE, he worked for the Director of Central Intelligence as a Program Monitor on the Intelligence Community Staff (1986-1990). He was responsible for the development and presentation to Congress of the budget of the National Security Agency, and helped develop, monitor and present to Congress the DOE Intelligence Budget. Mr. Swetnam was also assigned as the IC Staff representative to intergovernmental groups that developed the INF and START treaties. He assisted in presenting these treaties to Congress for ratification. Collateral duties included serving as the host to the DCI's Nuclear Intelligence Panel and Co-Chairman of the S&T Requirements Analysis Working Group.

Mr. Swetnam served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years as an active duty and reserve officer, Special Duty Cryptology. He has served in several public and community positions including Northern United Kingdom Scout Master (1984-85); Chairman, Term limits Referendum Committee (1992-93); President (1993) of the Montgomery County Corporate Volunteer Council, Montgomery County Corporate Partnership for Managerial Excellence (1993); and the Maryland Business Roundtable (1993). He is also on the Board of Directors of Space and Defense Systems Inc., Dragon Hawk Entertainment Inc., and the Governing Board of The Potomac Institute of New Zealand.

MoghissiA. Alan Moghissi, Ph.D.Member, Board of Regents and Senior Fellow

A. Alan Moghissi is currently the President of the Institute for Regulatory Science (RSI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the idea that societal decisions must be based on Best Available Science (BAS) and Metrics for Evaluation of Scientific Claims (MESC) derived from BAS. He is credited for having established regulatory science as a new scientific discipline. He is also a member of Board of Regents and a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for policy Studies, an organization dedicated to assist decision makers in developing policies that rely upon sound science. He is Associate Director, International Center for Regulatory Science at George Mason University and adjunct professor at the School of Medicine at Georgetown University.

Previously, Alan Moghissi was Associate Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and Assistant Vice President for Environmental Health and Safety at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  In both positions, he established an environmental health and safety program and resolved a number of relevant existing problems in those institutions. His approach consisted of using science and engineering to comply with exceedingly complex requirements dealing with occupational and environmental protection.  As a charter member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he served in a number of capacities, including; Principal Science Advisor for Radiation and Hazardous Materials; Manager of the Health and Environmental Risk Analysis Program both in EPA headquarter; and Director of the Bioenvironmental/Radiological Research Division in Las Vegas, NV . While at the EPA he was a member of a number working groups responsible for writing regulations mostly in areas related to radiation and hazardous materials. Alan Moghissi has been affiliated with a number of universities:  He was a professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore; a visiting professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Virginia; and was also affiliated with the University of Nevada and the Catholic University of America. 

Research activities of Alan Moghissi have dealt with diverse subjects ranging from measurement of pollutants to biological effects of environmental agents.  A major segment of his research has been on the development of the BAS/MESC system and its application to the scientific foundation of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and public information.  He has published in excess of 400 papers, reports, and other materials. In addition, he has authored or edited 20 books and has led peer reviews and scientific assessments resulting in about 300 reports. Sponsors of these activities included government agencies at federal, state, and local levels; U. S. Congress; and various other organizations at national and international levels. Alan Moghissi was the Editor-in-Chief of Environment International, Waste Management, and Technology,whichtraced its route to the Journal of the Franklin Institute, one of America=s oldest technical journals in the U.S.  Alan Moghissi was and continues to be a member of the editorial boards of several other scientific journals, and is active in a number of civic, academic, and scientific organizations. 

He is an honorary member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements; a member of the International Academy of Indoor Air Sciences; an Academic Councilor of the Russian Academy of Engineering; and a past Academic Councilor of Universidad Popular Autonoma del Estado Puebla, a Mexican University. He has testified numerous times at committees of both Senate and House of Representatives; has served on a number of national and international panels; and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Distinguished Carrier Award of the EPA and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Dr. Moghissi has served as a Commissioner of the U. S. Commission on UNESCO and served as a member of the U.S. Committee on International Hydrology Programme.

Alan Moghissi received his education at the University of Zurich, and Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland, and Technical University of Karlsruhe (now Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) in Germany, where he received a doctorate degree in physical chemistry.

Jamie Barnett, RDML USNR (Ret.) is a Senior Fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. RDML  Barnett has over thirty years experience in the U.S. Navy and a distinguished career in private law practice. From 2009-2012, he served in an IPA assignment as Chief of the Federal Communications Commission's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB). He previously served as a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute.

At the FCC, RDML Barnett was active in promoting cybersecurity initiatives and advancing emergency communications capabilities, including seminal work on the public safety broadband network. He created the Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability Division within PSHSB which achieved significant results in March, 2012 when the Division’s Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) announced three voluntary cybersecurity measures for Internet service providers (ISP), including a new ISP Code of Conduct to reduce botnets, implementation best practices for securing the Domain Name System, and creating a authoritative registry for Internet addresses to reduce Internet route hijacking.  Moreover, he worked to get ISPs to adopt the three measures that will cover almost 90% of all American Internet users.  RDML Barnett proposed   the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which was conducted on November 9, 2011, and he laid the groundwork for a Next Generation 911 system.

A Rear Admiral (lower half) in the Navy Reserve, he served on active duty as Director of Navy Education and Training in the Pentagon during the crucial overhaul of the Navy’s Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education organization. He led a task force on developing a Navy Education Strategy and served on the Board of Advisors for the Naval Postgraduate School. His most recent active duty assignments include Acting Deputy Director of Expeditionary Warfare and Acting Deputy Director of Surface Warfare on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. His last active duty assignment was Deputy Commander of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command in Little Creek, Virginia, which provides leadership of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the Seabees, Naval Coastal Warfare, Mobile Diving and Salvage, Maritime Expeditionary Security Forces and Riverine Forces.

In 2001, then-Captain Barnett was recalled to active duty in Washington, D.C. to serve as a change manager and project lead in the Navy’s Revolution in Training (Task Force EXCEL), chartered to revolutionize the Navy’s training establishment, inject the science of learning, and create learning centers of excellence. He played a leadership role in designing the new training organization, including the Navy Personnel Development Command, the Center for Naval Leadership and the Human Performance Center. He was subsequently given command of the Center for Personal Development, charged with the responsibility for delivering college education to Navy members worldwide as well as training in ethics, diversity, finance, fitness, among others. He was awarded the first of four Legion of Merit medals for his work there.

RDML Barnett’s Navy career has focused on the Middle East and Africa ever since his first deployment there aboard USS JONAS INGRAM (DD-938) in 1977. He served as Executive Officer of the Military Sealift Command Office in Ad Dammam, Saudi Arabia during OPERATION DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, and he later commanded Military Sealift Command units dedicated to the North and South Persian Gulf areas. His other commands include Mobile Inshore Undersea Warfare Unit 207, a Naval Coastal Warfare unit based in Jacksonville, Florida.

In civilian life, RDML Barnett advised and represented thousands of governmental officials and entities as an attorney, in the board room and in state and federal court during eighteen years of private practice. His clients included cities, counties, school districts, law enforcement agencies and development authorities, providing legal and policy advice on a range of topics, including constitutional law, governmental liability, personnel and employment law, education and school law, policy development, legislation, procurement, and ethics. He was a board attorney for several school districts, and has served as the President of the Council of School Board Attorneys in Mississippi. He received the statewide Exceptional Service Award for his work for the Pro Bono Project, and he was named the state’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year in 1989. He has presented continuing legal education seminars in constitutional law, school law and ethics.

RDML Barnett received his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1984, where he was named the Dean Parham Williams Outstanding Student and served as Chairman of the Moot Court Board. He also served as the National Director of the ABA’s National Appellate competition.

He enjoys drawing on his experience in constitutional law, school law, policy development, expeditionary warfare, strategy and planning, state and local government, education, and training.




The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
Ballston Metro Center Office Towers
901 North Stuart Street, Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22203
Tel 703.525.0770

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Our Mission

The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit public policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology issues facing our society. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful science and technology policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government.

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