About the Project on Nuclear Issues

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PONI identifies and cultivates emerging thought leaders by building relationships, deepening understanding, and sharing perspectives across the full range of nuclear issues and communities. PONI’s programs provide inclusive, diverse, and creative opportunities for emerging experts to learn about policy, technical, and operational aspects of the nuclear enterprise, develop and present new concepts and ideas, engage in thoughtful and informed debates, and tour and visit sites across the nuclear community. 

Programming and Initiatives 

  • Conference Series – provides a forum for rising young professionals to share their research. The conferences facilitate new and innovative thinking on evolving issues in nuclear security and international security for experts across the nuclear community to connect.  
  • Nuclear Scholars Initiative – convenes a group of select young professionals to participate in daylong workshops with senior government officials, policy experts, and technical experts in discussions on a range of nuclear security issues. Workshops also include interactive opportunities to engage on topics. Scholars are required to prepare a research product or ab blog post which is published on PONI platforms. 
  • Mid-Career Cadre – a select group of nuclear professionals that have been in the field for five to fifteen years and demonstrate promise for developing expertise and moving into leadership positions. Cadre members have the opportunity to attend international exchanges, deep dive workshops, senior expert discussions, participate in research workshops, and mentor young professionals in other PONI programming. 
  • Deep Dives – workshops bring together a diverse group of 20-30 participants to discuss key issues and to develop recommendations utilizing innovative and interdisciplinary approaches. The workshops are tacked on to our regional conferences. We plan to utilize these workshops as a regular Mid-Career Cadre programming opportunity to explore critical nuclear weapons and security related issues. 
  • Developing the Next Generation of Arms Control Negotiators Initiative – provides the opportunity to engage in discussions and skills development for arms control negotiations.  

Meet the Team

  • Heather Williams
    Dr. Heather Williams is the Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to joining PONI, she was a Visiting Fellow with the Project on Managing the Atom in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Defence Studies at King’s College London. From 2020-2021, Heather was a Stanton Nuclear Security fellow in the Security Studies Program at MIT. Her recent research includes the CSIS report, Integrated Arms Control in an Era of Strategic Competition (with Rebecca Hersman and Suzanne Claeys), “The Unavoidable Technology: How Artificial Intelligence Can Strengthen Nuclear Stability” in The Washington Quarterly (with Jessica Cox), and “Asymmetric arms control and strategic stability: Scenarios for limiting hypersonic glide vehicles” in the Journal of Strategic Studies.
    From 2018 to 2019, Dr. Williams served as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Disarmament, and until 2015 she was a Research Fellow at Chatham House and led research on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative. She previously worked in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where she remains an adjunct Research Staff Member. She is a Senior Associate (non-resident) with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a Senior Associate Fellow with the European Leadership Network, and a member of the Wilton Park Advisory Council. Dr. Williams has a PhD in War Studies from King’s College London, an MA in Security Policy Studies from The George Washington University, and a BA in International Relations and Russian Studies from Boston University.
  • Kelsey Hartigan
    Deputy Director and Senior Fellow
    Kelsey Hartigan is the deputy director of the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and a senior fellow with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In this role, she is responsible for managing the country’s preeminent national program for developing the next generation of nuclear experts.

    Prior to joining CSIS, Hartigan was dual-hatted as a faculty associate at the Naval Postgraduate School and a senior adviser to the director of the U.S. Special Operations Command Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. From 2016 to 2019, she served as a policy adviser on North Korea, weapons of mass destruction crisis response planning, and nuclear proliferation in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy. Before joining the Department of Defense, Hartigan was a senior program officer at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a nonproliferation and defense analyst at the National Security Network. She has also held positions with the International Security and Nuclear Weapons Program at the Henry L. Stimson Center and the U.S. Department of State’s Delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland.

    Hartigan holds an MA from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she focused on technology and national security, and a BA from Purdue University.
  • Nicholas Adamopoulos
    Program Manager and Research Associate
    Nicholas Adamopoulos is a program manager and research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues at CSIS. He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Colgate University and a master’s degree in international affairs from The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Prior to joining CSIS, he worked as an intern at the Arms Control Association, where he published several articles in Arms Control Today. His current research interests focus on international negotiation strategy and processes.
  • Suzanne Claeys
    Program Manager and Research Associate
    Suzanne Claeys is a program manager and research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) at the Center for the Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) where she manages the CSIS European Trilateral Track 2 Nuclear Dialogues and research on the future of arms control in an era of strategic competition. She is a M.A. and nuclear policy certificate candidate at the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Suzanne graduated Phi Beta Kappa from American University with a B.A. in international studies and Spanish studies.
  • Reja Younis
    Program Manager and Research Associate
    Reja Younis is the program manager and a research associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues in the International Security Program at CSIS. Prior to working at CSIS, she completed a year-long fellowship with The Stimson Center, where she conducted research on nuclear deterrence challenges, crisis dynamics, and great power competition in the context of South Asia. She has also worked as a research analyst for the Chicago Project on Political Violence and has served as an editorial writer and subeditor of the Opinion and Editorial section for the Tribune newspaper. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and liberal arts from the Institute of Business Administration Karachi and a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Chicago.
  • Joseph Rodgers
    Program Manager & Research Associate
    Joseph Rodgers is a Program Manager and Research Associate with the Project on Nuclear Issues in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He is also a Ph.D. student in the biodefense program at George Mason University. Previously, he worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and interned with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Joseph holds an M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism from the Middlebury Institute for International Studies.
  • Jessica Link
    Program Coordinator and Research Assistant
    Jessica Link is a program coordinator and research assistant with the Project on Nuclear Issues in the International Security Program at the Center for the Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Prior to joining CSIS, she was a research intern at the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Jessica graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in Government.

Career Opportunities

Development Team

The Next Generation Nuclear Network is a product of the Andreas C. Dracopoulos iDeas Lab, the in-house digital, multimedia, and design agency at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Produced by Bob Walker, Christina Hamm, Jacque Schrag, Kai Elwood-Dieu, Lindsay Urchyk, Serven Maraghi, and Tucker Harris.

About CSIS

Established in Washington, D.C. nearly 60 years ago, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to advancing practical ideas that address the world’s greatest challenges. CSIS is ranked the number one think tank in the United States by the University of Pennsylvania’s annual think tank report. To learn more about CSIS, visit www.csis.org.

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