The CISAC Fellowship Program is training and educating the next generation of thought leaders and policy makers in international security.
Our fellows spend the academic year engaged in research and writing, and participate in seminars and collaborate with faculty and researchers. Every summer, many complete their fellowships and move on to new career endeavors. For the 2016-17 academic year, CISAC hosted 21 fellows (the center has 399 former fellows).
Some of our fellows, in their own words, explain what they will be doing next:
Having spent two years as a nuclear security postdoctoral fellow at CISAC, I return to my home institution, the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg, Germany. As a historian of late modern history, I do so in great gratitude for an excellent and abundantly rich scholarly experience at Stanford. Once I am back in Germany, I will publish my first book early next year, the manuscript of which I finalized at CISAC. I will also proceed to publish the manuscript of my second book, which I wrote entirely at Stanford. And I will move towards the pursuit of the so-called “habilitation,” which is required (in Germany) to qualify for a position as a full professor in my home country.
It is not easy to put into a few words how much my CISAC experience has helped me with making progress at a crucial juncture of my career. CISAC fellowships offered me a transformative opportunity to make my research more rigorous, to think more creatively and more carefully, to appreciate interdisciplinary approaches in addressing complex problems, to improve my teaching abilities, and to establish relationships with leading scholars and specialists, which I hope will be long-lasting ties to communities at CISAC, Stanford, and the U.S.
I have a tenured position at my institute in Hungary so I will move home in August and get back to teaching and research.
My CISAC experience was amazing, from the beginning I felt that I was part of a community here. I got much useful feedback on my research, and I really feel that my work improved in quality and I became a better researcher. I learned a lot about how to present my ideas so that it would be relevant for policy makers, and my fellowship opened new doors for me. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am certain that I will continue to be an active member of the CISAC community wherever I go.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, I will remain at CISAC. As a social sciences postdoctoral fellow, I will study how international actors and third parties utilize diplomacy to manage and resolve interstate conflicts. This builds upon my broader research agenda, which uses new quantitative data and statistical methods to analyze the strategic logic of negotiations during war.
Given that I came from a predominantly social science background, my year at CISAC was invaluable in helping me to understand the policymaking world and how my research could more effectively communicate the technicalities of my research to a broader informed yet general audience. I also learned about what kinds of pressing questions concern policymakers, which I will use to shape my future work. I look forward to meeting another group of diverse and knowledgeable individuals next year.
This fall, I will return to my regular life at Boston College, where I am an associate professor of political science and international studies. In the upcoming academic year, I will continue to work on the research I worked on at CISAC on new weapons and the laws and norms of war and the nuclear weapons portion of my project in particular. I will also teach two sections of the Introduction to International Studies for BC undergraduates and the Field Seminar in International Politics for BC graduate students. In the fall, I also look forward to being affiliated with the Security Studies Program at MIT.
CISAC has been a tremendous source of academic support for my research. Not only has it given me time and resources to do research and write, but it has also introduced me to new colleagues, who have generously provided insights and expertise that have improved that research. It also made it possible for me to attend events like a conference on New Dilemmas in Ethics, Technology, and War at the Air Force Academy in April 2017, the Military Immersion Map Exercise at RAND in May 2017, and the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons in June 2017.
These experiences, as well as all of the opportunities to attend events and meet people at CISAC itself, will continue to shape how I think about my research and teaching and have helped me build new professional networks for the long term.
In the next academic year, I will be a postdoc in Stanford’s Department of Geological Sciences. There, I will continue my work on the role of geologic disposal (burial) of weapons plutonium in the global arms control and disarmament regimes. I will also conduct scientific research on the manner in which nuclear materials change in response to their environments. For example, I am currently starting a project in which I attempt to determine the conditions in which uranium-bearing materials have been stored by studying the oxidation and hydration of their surfaces. This could help to determine the provenance of smuggled uranium that has been interdicted by law enforcement or security authorities.
My fellowship at CISAC has allowed me to translate my scientific skills to the policy realm, and to greatly expand the impact of my work. I have long been interested in science policy, but lacked the resources, connections, and experience necessary to effectively analyze critical issues and to communicate the results to both scholarly and governmental audiences. Through interactions with CISAC’s resident policy experts, I learned about the role that technical analysis can play in the policymaking process.
While my transition to policy-relevant work is ongoing, my efforts have already yielded some impact on international policy, with an Australian Royal Commission report citing my work on quantifying the long-term risks associated with the burial of nuclear materials. I expect that the valuable experience and mentorship I received over the course of my CISAC fellowship will continue to inform and enhance my work at the interface of nuclear science and policy.
I will become the Jill Hopper Memorial Fellow at Georgetown University and will be teaching a course, the History and Politics of Nuclear Proliferation, in spring 2018. From August this year, I will be a visiting scholar at the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University. CISAC provided me with amazing resources. I loved my intellectually stimulating meetings with my mentor Scott Sagan and other amazing scholars who opened their office doors to me. CISAC is an ‘intellectual candy store.’ I am grateful to everyone there for creating such a special environment.
Starting July 1, I will be a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where I will keep working on my research about technology and international security.
The CISAC experience helped my career in three main ways. First, CISAC is a fantastic academic environment where young researchers can deal with leading scholars in a plurality of fields: the constant interactions between different views and expertise represent a unique source of intellectual growth that has helped me develop new ideas and identify new questions in my field.
Second, CISAC's activities and professional growth initiatives help fellows gain the skills and acquire the knowledge to succeed not only as an academic but also, more broadly, as public intellectual. CISAC has helped me improve my understanding of policy dynamics as well as my capacity to present to non-experts the findings of my research. Third, CISAC's "be-good" motto combined with its strong mentorship provides fellows with a perfect working environment.
This fall, I will be starting my position as a systems research analyst at Sandia National Lab. For my research here at CISAC, I have taken a broad, holistic look at the proliferation impact of the thorium fuel cycle. Therefore, CISAC has given me valuable experience in thinking through difficult problems using a systematic, top-down approach, which is a skill that I will take with me to my next position.
Accepting a postdoctoral fellowship with CISAC was an unconventional career move for me, personally. I got my doctorate in chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2016. Most of my peers in the chemistry department went on to conduct postdoctoral research at another university, a national lab, or in industry. A few made the leap into science policy fellowships in Washington, D.C. For me, CISAC provided a happy compromise between these two options. It allowed me the freedom to continue conducting technical research (albeit outside the chemistry lab), while still exploring the policy implications of my research.
My experience at CISAC helped my career progression in two ways. First, through targeted workshops, reading groups, and less formal daily interactions, CISAC provided me with the opportunity to view my research and interests from a different lens, that of the policymaker. It was interesting to see my fellow fellows, of all academic backgrounds, struggling with how to translate the finer points of their academic research into policy-relevant media. I learned a lot from their experiences and challenges. The second way that CISAC has helped my career progression was through exposure to others who have done this transition successfully. This was achieved through fantastic seminar series, as well as through daily interaction with faculty and fellows here at CISAC. Speaking with people who have worked at high levels in Washington, D.C. made me realize that I would prefer to continue doing policy-relevant academic and technical research in nuclear science, rather than to transition to policy completely.
Current fellowship opportunities at CISAC include:
For more information about CISAC fellowships, email firstname.lastname@example.org.