Rebecca Slayton

Rebecca Slayton, PhD

Research Interests

Cold War; missile defense; nuclear weapons; defense policy; ethics


Slayton’s research and teaching examine the relationships between and among risk, governance, and expertise, with a focus on international security and cooperation since World War II. Her first book, Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 (MIT Press, 2013), shows how the rise of a new field of expertise in computing reshaped public policies and perceptions about the risks of missile defense in the United States. In 2015, Arguments that Count won the Computer History Museum Prize.

Slayton’s second book project, Shadowing Cybersecurity, examines the emergence of cybersecurity expertise through the interplay of innovation and repair. Slayton is also working on a third project which examines tensions intrinsic to the creation of a “smart” electrical power grid—i.e. a more sustainable, reliable, and secure grid. Both of these current projects are supported by a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER award, “Enacting Cybersecurity Expertise.” Slayton is also a project lead on research funded by a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute.