Sonja Schmid (speaker) is a social science research associate at Stanford University. Having received her Ph.D. in Science & Technology Studies from Cornell University, she is now a science fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and affiliated with the Program in Science, Technology and Society at Stanford. Her research has focused on understanding complex decision-making processes at the interface between science, technology, and the state in the Cold War Soviet context, and is based on extensive archival research and narrative interviews with nuclear energy specialists in Russia. She is currently working on a book about reactor design choices and the development of the civilian nuclear industry in the Soviet Union. In addition, she is involved in an international research project on Cold War Technopolitics and Colonialism, where she works on Soviet technology transfer to Central and Eastern Europe. Her research interests also include risk communication, and the popularization of science and technology, subjects on which she has published in the past.
Rebecca Slayton (respondent) is a lecturer in the Science, Technology and Society Program at Stanford University and a CISAC affiliate. In 2004-2005 she was a CISAC science fellow. Her research examines how technical judgments are generated, taken up, and given significance in international security contexts. She is currently working on a book which uses the history of the U.S. ballistic missile defense program to study the relationships between and among technology, expertise, and the media. Portions of this work have been published in journals such as History and Technology and have been presented at academic conferences. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she recently completed an NSF-funded project entitled Public Science: Discourse about the Strategic Defense Initiative, 1983-1988. As a physical chemist, she developed ultrafast laser experiments in condensed matter systems and published several articles in physics journals. She also received the AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship in 2000, and has worked as a science journalist for a daily paper and for Physical Review Focus. She earned her doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in 2002.