Bed Time Research Institute

Aviation Security Systems Design and Optimization (1996-Present) 

Analyze the impact of risk-based strategies on aviation security efficiency and effectiveness

Papers Published


What The Russian Crash Means For Aviation Security, Huffington Post Live, 2 November 2015.

Research on Airport Screening.  Released 10 September 2012, National Science Foundation

News Research Video. Released 20 September 2006.

Aviation Security: Researching the Risk. Released 20 September 2006.

Selected Media Coverage

(28 June 2018) Suspect who rushed Delta plane on tarmac yelled “I’m going to blow this pace’” Police Report,  (WXIA-TV 11Alive, NBC, Atlanta, GA) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on airport perimeter security breaches.

(30 January 2018) DHS’s New Plan for Refugee Screening Looks a Lot Like TSA PreCheck (Patrick Tucker, Defense One) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on how immigration screening can be conducted using a program modeled after TSA PreCheck©.

(11 January 2018) “Une conseil: en cas de tempete ne utilisez pas l’aeroporte JFK” (Maxime Aubin, French Morning (New York)) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on the cause of the bomb cyclone that struck New York JFK Airport.

(22 December 2017) Experts: Atlanta blackout a lesson for other airports (David Wickert, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on the vulnerabilities at airports after the Atlanta Hartsfield power outage. 

(18 December 2017) Chicago ‘prepared’ for outage like at Atlanta airport, officials say (Marni Pyke, Chicago Daily Herald) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on the Atlanta Hartsfield power outage. 

(30 October 2017) Letter: Has the TSA spread itself too thin? which appeared in the Chicago Tribune (Voice of the People), discusses the recently implemented enhanced airport checkpoint screening procedures for food.

(23 October 2017) Letter: Build on the Readmission of Airport Travelers, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal, argues that allowing non-flyers beyond the security checkpoint could provide an added incentive for enrollment in TSA Precheck©.


(27 June 2017) Sheldon H. Jacobson was a guest on Top of Mind with Julie Rose on BYU Radio, discussing the proposed laptop ban on flights from Europe.


(30 May 2017)  Laptop ban not extended to flights from Europe, but options ‘still on the table’ (Stephen Loiaconi, Sinclair Broadcast Group) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on the laptop ban on flights from Europe.


(21 March 2017) What to know about the new airline electronics bans (CBC News Canada) quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on the US Department of Homeland Security requirement that large electronic devices be stowed in checked luggage for flights originating in certain countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa.  See also Here’s Why the U.S. Is Banning Larger Electronics on Some Overseas Flights (Katie Reilly, Time),  Why the airline 'electronics ban' may not be discrimination (Patrick Reilly, Christian Science Monitor), Clamping down on carry-on devices (CBC News Canada), and two interviews on BBC World News.


(21 February 2017) TSA Investigating Security Breach at JFK Airport (CBS This Morning, New York, NY).  See also Impact of Airport Attacks on Security (WRBL CBS, Columbus, OH).


(6 January 2017) How Secure are our Airports? Invited Op-ed, CNN Opinion.  See also Circa News (7 January 2017).


(5 December 2016) Making TSA PreCheck free can save TSA millions: Report (Chicago Tribune; Mary Wisniewski) quotes a recent study by Sheldon H. Jacobson, Arash Khatibi, and Ge Yu, on why TSA PreCheck should be offered at no cost to high volume travels.  See also TSA could save money by waving PreCheck fees for frequent travelers, study finds, University of Illinois News Bureau (5 December 2016); TSA would save millions if PreCheck was free for all flyers, Illinois prof argues, Chicago Business Journal (5 December 2016); Study Finds making PreCheck free could save millions, CBS Radio WBBM, Chicago IL (5 December 2016); U of I study says TSA could save money by waiving PreCheck program fees, ABC 7 Eyewitness News, Chicago, IL (5 December 2016); Making TSA PreCheck free could save millions of dollars, study suggests, Los Angeles Times (5 December 2016); TSA should drop enrollment fee for PreCheck, Study finds, Consumer Affairs (5 December 2016); TSA Could Waive $85 PreCheck Fee and Save Millions, Vocative (6 December 2016); The Case for Making PreCheck Free, Smarter Travel (6 December 2016); There’s a Way to Cut TSA Lines and TSA Costs, Newser (6 December 2016); Eliminating TSA PreCheck Program Fee for Frequent Flyers Could Save Millions of Dollars: Study, Boarding Area: The Gate with Brian Cohen (6 December 2016); Study: Waiving TSA PreCheck Fee Could Save Taxpayers Millions, Flyer Talk: Jeff Edwards (6 December 2016); Give yourself a holiday Gift: TSA PreCheck, Chicago Tribune Editorial (8 December 2016); Free PreCheck would shorten queues, argue US Researchers, IHS Airport 360 (15 December 2016).

(11 September 2016) Dan Corkey: Why wait in line if you’re not the bad guy? (Opinion, News Gazette, Champaign, IL).

(30 June 2016) After Istanbul, Here’s How Airport Experts Want to Protect You at the Curbside which appeared in Defense One (Patrick Tucker) quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on how security can be further hardened, in response to Jeh Johnson’s (DHS Secretary) call for more security vigilance at airports and other venues. See also How to Improve Airport Security in the Wake of the Istanbul Attack in the Fiscal Times (1 July 2016).

(25 June 2016) TSA PreCheck: Will it shorten security lines at airports? which appeared in the Christian Science Monitor (Lucy Schouten), quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on the benefits of TSA PreCheck.

(25 May 2016) O’Hare middle of the pack for security fence breaches, which appeared in the Chicago Daily Herald (Marni Pyke) quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on the Associated Press report discussing airport security fence breaches.

(24 May 2016) Flying local best way to avoid long TSA lines on WCIA-3 (CBS affiliate, Champaign, IL) quotes Sheldon H. Jacobson on long airport security lines.

(17 May 2016) What should be done about long delays for security checks at airports?: A Minute with Sheldon H. Jacobson, University of Illinois Airport Security Expert and Professor of Computer Science.

Invited Op-ed After Brussels, simply adding extra security won’t keep travelers safe, published in Quartz on 23 March 2016, discusses the Brussels airport bombing and appropriate response for such events.  See also DefenseOne, HotAir, Government Executive, Aspen Institute and Time (Five Best Ideas of the Day, 25 March 2016, #1)

Pyke: Tips to make it easy as pie to escape this Thanksgiving” (Chicago Daily Herald) provides holiday tips from Sheldon H. Jacobson for maneuvering through aviation security during the holidays. Reported 23 November 2015

What The Russian Crash Means For Aviation Security” on HuffPost Live featured commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson.  Reported 2 November 2015.

Experts: U.S. airports safe, but Egyptian breach may bring crackdown” (Chicago Daily Herald). Reported 9 November 2015.

TSA security lapses point to management, training failures, experts say” (Sinclair Broadcast Group: WJLA ABC-7 Washington DC, KUTV ABC-2 Salt Lake City UT). Reported 9 November 2015.

Is backscatter X-ray a safe tool for airport security? A Minute Withä U. of I. airport security expert Sheldon H. Jacobson. Report 29 September 2015.

How Not To Fix Airport Screening” by Patrick Tucker, Defense One.  See also, “The One Right Way to Solve the TSA Crisis Is Politically Incorrect,” in the Fiscal Times. Reported 2 June 2015.

Sheldon H. Jacobson is quoted in the article, “TSA seizes record number of guns from passengers in 2014” which appeared in the Washington Times. Reported 4 January 2015.

(Sheldon H. Jacobson is quoted in the article, “'Risk-based management': New program marks Transportation Security Administration anniversary,” which appeared in the Amarillo Globe News. Report 9 October 2012.

Sheldon H. Jacobson was quoted in the Reuters news stories, “U.S. airport security could detect Qaeda device: officials” and “Would-be suicide bomber was U.S. informant”.  Reported 8 May 2012.

Sheldon H. Jacobson was quoted in the news article, “Republicans take aim at TSA, agency is inefficient, too expensive,” published in the Daily News Journal (Nashville, TN). Reported 1 April 2012.

(University of Illinois, National Science Foundation) Risk-based Passenger Screening Could Make Air Travel Safer. Reported 31 January 2012.


KCCI-TV (CBS affiliate, Des Moines, IA) news special report Airport Insecurity, Part II features aviation security expert Sheldon H. Jacobson. Reported 11 November 2011.


Opinion letter in USA Today, responding to TSA chats address limits of technology. Reported 3 November 2011.


Press Release (11-184) issued by the National Science Foundation: From 9/11 to Now: Lessons from the Tragedy.  See also Sept. 11: A decade later, how secure are we? Reported 8 September 2011.

The Evolution of Airport Security.  Reported 11 September 2011.

November 29, 2010 (WILL AM 580, Urbana, IL)  UI Air Security Expert: More Searches are Not Equal to More Security. Reported 29 November 2010.

November 23, 2010 (University of Illinois) A Minute with aviation security expert Sheldon Jacobson. Reported 23 November 2010.

(April 5, 2010) A Minute with Sheldon Jacobson, an expert on aviation security: TSA's new airport security measures aim to target most suspicious passengers. Reported 5 April 2010.

(January 4, 2010) Sheldon H. Jacobson provided commentary featured in “Will Profiling Make a Difference? on the New York Times web site: Room for Debate.  Other references on this topic can be found at Media Matters for America and the Keene Sentinel. Reported 4 January 2010.

A Minute with Sheldon Jacobson: How can better pre-screening make airports safer?  Reported by the University of Illinois on 14 February 2008.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) issued the press release (06-154) New Technologies Could Make Airport Screening More Effective and Less Cumbersome,” which featured the video Aviation Security: Researching the Risk.” (the listed link on the NSF website is no longer active; see the links below). Reported 24 October 2006.


Students Involved

Adrian J. Lee (Mechanical Engineering PhD Graduate Student, University of Illinois)

Alexander G. Nikolaev (Industrial Engineering PhD Graduate Student, University of Illinois)

Laura Albert (Industrial Engineering PhD Graduate Student, University of Illinois)

Jon M. Bowman (Industrial Engineering MS Graduate Student, University of Illinois)

Julie L. Virta (Industrial Engineering MS Graduate Student, University of Illinois)

Amy E. Simms(Industrial Engineering MS Graduate Student, Virginia Tech)



Last updated: 1 February 2019

URL address: BTRI


Contact Information: Sheldon H. Jacobson, 217-244-7275, email, twitter