The 2019 class for the Nuclear Scholars Initiative is PONI’s largest ever. The 32 Scholars represent organizations in the government, military, national labs, nonprofits, private sector, and academia. Several members of this year’s class will contribute directly to PONI’s grant from the Carnegie Corporation on emerging technology and nuclear risk. More about the Nuclear Scholars Initiative »
Aaron Allen is a Senior Legislative Assistant to Representative Juan Vargas and an M.A. candidate in Security Studies at Georgetown University.
Chris Andrews is an Engineer in Defense Programs at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). His work supports the Uranium Program in the NNSA Office of Strategic Materials, focusing on process technology development and uranium sustainment activities at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Chris joined the Strategic Materials team following a year as an NNSA Graduate Fellow in the Office of International Nuclear Safeguards. His experience also includes technology transfer at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation and mining and industrial chemical manufacturing at the FMC/Tronox/Genesis trona mine and soda ash plant in Green River, Wyoming. Chris holds an MSc in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee as well as a BA in theology and a BA in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
Becca graduated with honors from Columbia University in 2016, earning dual degrees in Physics and Political Science. She now works as a data scientist for Booz Allen Hamilton, embedded on-site with defense and intelligence clients. As she has navigated her way to the intersection of STEM and policy, Becca has worked in research labs at NASA, Columbia, and Harvard and has spoken at a number of academic conferences about her work on magnetospheres, the solar wind, and plasma physics. She also interned at the State Department in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, which motivated her to venture outside the lab and into the world of national security (including speaking at PONI’s PNNL and Capstone conferences while in college). She is excited for this opportunity to dive into some of the most salient issues in nuclear policy and learn from a cohort of bright young professionals.
Jason Arterburn is an analyst at C4ADS, a Washington DC-based NGO that uses emerging technology and publicly available information to map and track illicit transnational networks. His portfolio covers North Korean sanctions evasion and illicit overseas commercial activity. Jason was the lead investigator and author of the recent C4ADS report entitled “Dispatched: Mapping Overseas Forced Labor in North Korea’s Proliferation Finance System,” which exposed the relationship of North Korea’s labor export program to its procurement, shipping, cyber, and coal trade operations in Russia, China, and Southeast Asia. Jason earned a master’s degree in China studies from Peking University, where he wrote a Mandarin-language thesis on Chinese applications of blockchain technology. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and interdisciplinary security studies from the University of Alabama, where he was awarded the Harry S. Truman and David L. Boren Scholarships. Prior to C4ADS, Jason studied Mandarin in Beijing as a Blakemore Freeman Fellow at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies.
Savannah Blalock is a National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellow in the Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control, where her work focuses on safeguards implementation, export controls, verification and compliance, and policy cooperation. She recently graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies with a M.A. in Security Studies and Economics and holds a B.A. in International Affairs and Political Science from the University of Georgia. Savannah’s nonproliferation experience includes internships at the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives, as well as an academic fellowship at the Center for International Trade and Security.
Mary Boatright is an active duty commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. She is currently stationed at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota as a Nuclear Cryptographic Operator for the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) community. She conducts encoding operations for the 150 dispersed Minuteman III ICBMs and 15 Command and Control (C2) centers across North Dakota’s missile complex. Additionally, she verifies the content accuracy of nuclear certified codes, to include the enable, launch, and inhibit code systems. Mary received her Bachelors of Arts in History at the University of New Mexico and subsequently earned her Masters of Arts in International Relations from Norwich University. She was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She enjoys football, yoga, and spending time with her husband and two children.
Captain Richard Cassleman
Captain Richard Cassleman is a B-2 Stealth Bomber pilot for the 393rd Bomb Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Here he provides both conventional and nuclear long-range strike capabilities in the world’s only stealth bomber. He additionally serves as a Combat Plans Officer and a T-38 Instructor Pilot for the 393rd BS. Richard was a Distinguished Graduate at the United States Air Force Academy, graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Upon graduation he attended the Catholic University of America where he earned a Master of Arts in Politics with a specialty in Poitical Theory. After his studies he attended Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas in 2014. Following graduation Richard was assigned to Whiteman AFB for his current assignment flying the T-38 and the B-2.
Mary Chesnut is the program manager of the Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG), a non-partisan network of experts, chaired by Dr. Janne Nolan, working to promote discourse and build consensus on nuclear security issues. Mary has a master’s degree in national security from the University of Kentucky’s Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and a bachelor’s degree in Russian studies from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where she was elected a permanent member of Phi Beta Kappa. Mary’s research at PONI will focus on Soviet and modern Russian space strategy, examining US and Russian assets in space including nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3), and the Russian reaction to Trump’s recent announcement of a Space Force.
Erin Connolly is a Program Assistant at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Fissile Materials Working Group. She works on nuclear security, artificial intelligence, and U.S. nonproliferation policy-related projects, with a special emphasis on youth engagement. Erin has written articles, blogs and an academic paper on nuclear policy issues and was recently published in Teen Vogue. Erin serves on the Board of Advisors for GirlSecurity, an organization that works to educate girls on U.S. national security issues and cultivate the next generation through mentorship. She received a Bachelor’s degree from College of the Holy Cross in International Studies with a minor in French and a concentration in Peace and Conflict studies.
Captain Jamesian “Dillion” Emmanuel
Captain Jamesian “Dillon” Emmanuel currently serves as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate for the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB, Missouri. He is the Chief of Military Justice, and in that role he coordinates court-martial investigations, reviews sexual assault allegations, and advises commanders and investigative agencies. Captain Emmanuel is a native of Arlington, Virginia and commissioned in the Air Force in May 2017. He earned a Bachelor of Arts and two Master’s degrees from Marymount University and his law degree from George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School. He is admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. During law school and before joining the Air Force, he interned with the Department of Justice and served as a full-time sworn police officer in Northern Virginia for over six years and is licensed as a police officer in Missouri.
Madison A. Estes
Madison A. Estes is an analyst with the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) in the Strategy and Policy Analysis program. Her research portfolio includes nuclear deterrence, extended deterrence, escalation, strategic stability, ballistic missile defense, and arms control issues. Prior to joining CNA, Estes interned with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, where she worked with the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance on the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification. She also interned with the U.S. Embassy in London and the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), where she was a contributing author to their quarterly publication, Trust & Verify. Estes holds a Master’s in Non-Proliferation and International Security from King’s College London, where she completed her dissertation on the contribution of the New START Treaty to U.S.-Russia strategic stability. She received her Bachelor’s in International Relations and Global Studies with a concentration in International Security from the University of Texas at Austin.
Gillian Evans is an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). Her work at CSBA focuses on nuclear strategy and modernization, as well as trends in future warfare. Prior to joining CSBA, Gillian worked as a consultant in PA Consulting Group’s Federal Defense Strategy practice, supporting projects for the Office of Naval Research and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Her previous experience also includes work for the Afghanistan Policy team at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and from 2014 to 2015 she held a fellowship at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan. Gillian holds an M.A. in Strategic Studies from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
Sam Guthrie is a strategic environment analyst with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in the United Kingdom, where he works on deterrence and defence policy. Sam holds a BSc in International Relations from the University of Southampton, where he completed a dissertation on strategic stability in the Arctic. Prior to joining Dstl, he worked as an analyst for the Flowminder Foundation, helping to assess post-disaster population displacement in South-east Asia. His research interests include South Asian stability, strategic wargaming and nuclear futures.
Jordan Hibbs serves as a Policy Advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in the Office of Technology Transitions. She previously worked as a Presidential Management Fellow in DOE’s Office of International Affairs and DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Jordan serves on the Board of Directors for the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. In 2018, she was awarded the UN Association’s Earl W. Eames, Jr. Communications Award for her innovative communications in promoting young people’s engagement with the UN. Jordan is a former Mosaic Taiwan Fellow and is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum. Her research interests include Asia-Pacific security issues, emerging technologies, and cybersecurity. Jordan holds a Master’s in Science and Technology Policy and a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State University. She also holds an Executive Leadership Certificate from American University.
Andrew Hollis is a first year PhD student in statistics at North Carolina State University. He is particularly interested in researching national security and defense applications for statistics. While at NCSU he has conducted research at the Laboratory for Analytical Sciences, a research lab focused on building analytical tools for the intelligence community. Andrew was born raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico. His brave parents homeschooled him through high school. He attended the University of New Mexico as a Regents’ Scholar and received his bachelor’s degree in statistics with minors in computer science and mathematics in spring 2019. During his time in undergraduate, he also completed four summer internships at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Principal Associate Directorate for Global Security.
Alex Hydrean is an international relations specialist at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). His work focuses on the implementation and support for nuclear arms control and nonproliferation treaties and agreements, to include the New START Treaty, the Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement (PPRA), and IAEA Safeguards. He also served at DTRA as a team leader and policy analyst in support of PPRA monitoring missions in both the U.S. and Russian Federation. Alex previously served on active duty in the U.S. Navy as a submarine officer, where he completed two Western Pacific deployments aboard the USS San Francisco. In 2018, Alex transitioned to the U.S. Navy Reserves, where he currently supports Commander Task Force 84. He received his commission from Cornell University with a B.S. in Engineering in 2010. He also holds a Master’s in Engineering Management from Old Dominion University. Alex resides in La Plata, Maryland with his wife, Rebecca.
Matt Korda is a Research Associate for the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, where he co-authors the Nuclear Notebook with Hans Kristensen. Previously, he worked for the Arms Control, Disarmament, and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre at NATO HQ in Brussels. He received his MA in International Peace & Security from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, where he subsequently worked as a Research Assistant on nuclear deterrence and strategic stability. He also completed an internship with the Verification, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) in London, where he focused on nuclear security and safeguards. Matt’s research interests and recent publications focus on nuclear deterrence, missile proliferation, gender mainstreaming, and alliance management, with regional concentrations on Russia and the Korean Peninsula.
Dr. Brendan Kullback
Dr. Brendan Kullback has been a member of the Strategic Weapons Studies Department at Sandia National Laboratories since 2013 as a graduate student and then as a systems analyst. His primary expertise is in nuclear weapon effects, physical vulnerabilities, and modeling and simulation thereof. He serves as a technical adviser to government entities on nuclear weapons effects and capabilities. Additionally, he has developed engagement simulation tools for missile defense analysis. Prior to Sandia, he spent five summers at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a graduate student where he performed computational simulations and explored shock-induced hydrodynamicinstability. He has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from the University of New Mexico. His dissertation is in solid mechanics where he developed a mathematical theory for deformation arrest in large-strain dynamic plasticity.
Rafael Loss is an adjunct fellow at the Center for Global Security Research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he is researching extended deterrence and alliance politics, missile defense, disarmament and arms control, and the effects of emerging technologies on strategic stability. He previously worked on foreign affairs, human rights, and security policy for the German Bundestag and the Federal Foreign Office. As a Fulbright scholar, Rafael earned his M.A. in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He also holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Bremen in Germany.
Kayla Matteucci is a recent graduate of Fordham University, hailing originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As an undergraduate, her experience in nuclear policy spanned from work at Sandia National Laboratories to the Council on Foreign Relations. Her interest in nuclear policy brought her to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, analyzing arms control as a representative of nuclear-focused nongovernmental organizations. After graduating, Matteucci joined the Center on National Security as a Junior Fellow, conducting research on the Eastern European security landscape, cybersecurity, and US-Russia relations. She is the 2018 Junior Fellow in Nuclear Policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she supports research on topics from the escalatory risks of dual use weapons to the prospects for engagement across ethical divides in the nuclear field. In her free time, she enjoys playing jazz and blues music as the keyboardist in a DC-based group.
Maj Craig Neuman
Maj Craig Neuman is an Air Force officer and AC-130 pilot, currently assigned to the Pentagon. Craig has completed multiple overseas deployments supporting joint and coalition special operations forces in Afghanistan. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and earned his PhD in Political Science at Stanford University. Craig taught nuclear history, strategy, and policy during his time at Stanford, and his research interests include escalation, military modernization, and East Asian security. His analysis has appeared in several outlets, including International Security and War on the Rocks.
Dev Patel helps the US Navy buy and maintain nuclear-powered warships. Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Patel represents the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (Naval Reactors) to Congress on matters pertaining to aircraft carriers, submarines, and naval shipyards. Previously, LTJG Patel was responsible for the oversight, technical support, and operations of the nuclear reactor construction and installation for USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). Also, he supported regulatory efforts for the reactor refueling and complex overhaul for USS George Washington (CVN 73). In 2015, Dev was a Summer Honors Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studied military decision-making and defense policy. Dev holds a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University and is currently pursuing his Masters in Nuclear Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Dev grew up in central Pennsylvania and enjoys reading, soccer, travel, and the great outdoors.
Kyle Pilutti is currently a NNSA Graduate Fellow working in the Office of International Nuclear Safeguards and a recent alum of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) where she studied nonproliferation policy. Before starting her master’s program at MIIS, she attended Michigan State University and spent time in the Arab World studying Arabic. While nuclear issues tend to take up a large portion of her life between work and odd nerdy hobbies, she is still new to the East Coast and has been exploring the different hiking and historical locations that this area has to offer.
Lianette Rivera-Baez was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. She continued her education by completing a Masters and a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her PhD thesis focused on the development of microfluidic technologies for the isolation and characterization of circulating tumor cells. Currently, Lianette is part of the Future Technical Leaders program at Northrop Grumman. This highly selective development program allows to achieve rapid maturation in the company to lead the next generation of our workforce into delivering technical excellence to the defense industry. As a Risk Engineer lead for the U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) program, Lianette leads the identification and mitigation of risks and opportunities to ensure program success.
Travis Rogers is a Systems Engineer, and the Operations and Training Thread Lead for Northrop Grumman’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. In this role he is the single point of contact for the operations and training focus area and is responsible for overseeing full system compliance of requirements dealing with operations, communications, training, and targeting of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent weapon system. Travis grew up in Atlanta, GA and attended the Georgia Institute of Technology. There he received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and was a Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. After he commissioned into the Air Force he became a Nuclear and Missiles Operations Officer. Stationed at Minot AFB, ND, Travis joined our nation’s elite missileer force and was responsible for the security, maintenance, and employment of the Minuteman III ICBM. While on Active Duty, he attained a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University. Travis, his wife Megan, and their three beagles live in Los Angeles, CA.
Victoria Sanchez is a postdoctoral fellow with the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP). She works in the Office of Strategic Stability and Deterrence in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, she was a nonproliferation analyst at the Pentagon for the CWMD and Proliferation Policy Division of Army Staff, and worked as a nuclear energy and nonproliferation analyst for multinational corporations and foreign governments at a boutique international consulting firm in Washington, D.C. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in international affairs from the University of Georgia, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware in political science and international relations. Her doctoral research focused on comparative policy change following nuclear accidents.
Abigail Stowe-Thurston is a research assistant for the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists. Previously, she was a fellow at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), where she lobbied on nuclear weapons policy and Pentagon spending. She has also held internships at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In these positions, her research focused on U.S.-Russian relationship and the history of arms control and nuclear security agreements. Abigail also has extensive experience working internationally, including in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Abigail graduated magna cum laude from Macalester College with a B.A. in Russian Studies and a minor in Political Science. She was awarded two State Department scholarships for intensive language study in Russia and Azerbaijan, and was the recipient of the Macalester College Presidential Leadership Award.
Captain James H.V. To
Captain James H. V. To serves as a Minuteman III Combat Crew Commander and an Instructor for the 12th Missile Squadron, 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. He graduated from the Texas A&M University ROTC program in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and a minor in Military Studies. Prior to commissioning in the United States Air Force, he studied Politics and Diplomacy at Tsinghua University and Fudan University in China. Currently, he is pursuing a Master of Science in Political Science at the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a focus on the political stability of and strategic balance in the Indo-Pacific. He recently won the 2018 General Larry D. Welch Strategic Deterrence Writing Award with a paper entitled: “Xi Jinping’s Rise and Aspirations: Prospect Theory Analysis.”
Cameron Trainer is a Research Associate with the Washington, DC, office of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. While his work primarily focuses on the implementation and enforcement of sanctions on North Korea, he is interested in—and has worked on—a broader set of issues including Russian nuclear modernization and countering proliferation finance. Cameron holds a MA (honours) from the University of St Andrews, where he studied International Relations and Russian
Captain Kyle Yohe
Captain Kyle Yohe is a B-52 Stratofortress Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander for the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale AFB, LA. In this role, Captain Yohe provides nuclear and conventional global strike capability to the national command authority and combatant commanders. As an Instructor Pilot, Captain Yohe is also tasked with the training and development of other B-52 aircrew to increase the unit’s lethality, capability, and skill. Captain Yohe has deployed twice in the B-52, once to the US Central Command and once to the US Indo-Pacific Command area of operations. He currently has over 1,200 flying hours including 425 combat hours in the B-52. Kyle holds Bachelor of Science in Operations Research from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government