Rod Ewing to serve as CISAC co-director


Rod Ewing will serve as co-director of the sciences for Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.
Photo credit: 
Courtesy of CISAC

Rod Ewing will serve as co-director of the sciences for Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Ewing, a mineralogist and materials scientist, is the Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security at CISAC and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He begins his new position on Sept. 1, following David Relman, the previous co-director for the sciences. Amy Zegart is the CISAC co-director for the social sciences.

Ewing, whose research is focused on the properties of nuclear materials, leads the Reset Nuclear Waste Policy program at CISAC. He describes the center as a unique organization that “explicitly acknowledges” the role of science and the social sciences in formulating policy. 

“CISAC is a rare opportunity for political and social scientists, historians and scientists and engineers to work together on solving pressing problems. The fact that we have two co-directors reflects a serious intent to integrate knowledge from the widest range of perspectives in order to find policy solutions to important problems,” he said.

Scholarship, research

Ewing is the author or co-author of more than 750 research publications and the editor or co-editor of 18 monographs, proceedings volumes or special issues of journals. He has published widely in mineralogy, geochemistry, materials science, nuclear materials, physics and chemistry in more than 100 different journals. Ewing was granted a patent for the development of a highly durable material for the immobilization of excess weapons plutonium. He is also a founding editor of the magazine, Elements. In 2015, he won the Roebling Medal, the highest award of the Mineralogical Society of America for scientific eminence.

“My work on nuclear waste started out with a focus on technical issues, but over several decades, I realized that technical solutions were not enough.  I now focus on trying to understand why institutions – universities, national laboratories and federal agencies – fail to arrive at the technical solutions. I have been surprised to learn how little science has been applied to the nuclear waste problem – and how social issues have dominated the outcome,” Ewing said.

Expertise, policy

In particular, Ewing seeks to understand why so little information from experts rise through an organization and change accepted ‘truths.’

“I first saw this when I was a soldier in Vietnam and continue to see the same problem in many other areas, that a disconnect exists between the on-the-ground reality and policy,” said Ewing who served in the U.S. Army as an interpreter of Vietnamese attached to the 25th Infantry Division from 1969 to 1970.

“At the very highest levels, policies seem to be based on a hunch or a bias rather than an analysis of the problem. I have always wondered why this is so common – as it often leads a country or organization down a wrong and often dangerous path,” he added.

Born in Abilene, Texas, Ewing attended Texas Christian University (B.S., 1968, summa cum laude) and graduate school at Stanford University (M.S., 1972; Ph.D., 1974). He began his academic career as an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico (1974) rising to the rank of Regents’ Professor of Earth & Planetary Sciences in 1993.

From 1997 to 2013, Ewing was a professor at the University of Michigan, and in 2014, he joined Stanford.


Rod Ewing, Center for International Security and Cooperation: (650) 725-8641,

Clifton B. Parker, Center for International Security and Cooperation: (650) 725-6488,