Class of 2024

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Catherine Appleby
Catherine Appleby is a technical staff member in the National Security Programs division at Sandia National Laboratories. As a computer scientist, she focuses on applications of deep learning and generative artificial intelligence in computer vision and natural language processing. She is interested in how state of the art machine learning models interplay with decision making, especially how large language models perform when informing strategic decisions. Catherine supports a range of projects across Sandia’s mission areas, including several in nuclear deterrence, and co-leads Sandia’s Deep Learning Community of Practice. She holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Engineering in Operations Research and Information Engineering from Cornell University.

John Bloodwood
Dr. John Bloodwood is the Engineering Planning and Analysis Team Lead in the Strategic Planning and Analysis office at Los Alamos National Laboratory. At Los Alamos, John has led multiple projects within the fields of decision science, process modeling, and risk assessment in support of the Lab’s production missions. He received his Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from Clemson University in 2020; his dissertation explored the intersection of economics, climate change, and resource depletion. John was previously a senior data visualization consultant for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control where he worked on COVID-19 dashboarding and analysis. He is eager to continue working on societal-scale, interdisciplinary challenges, particularly in the realm of nuclear policy.

Brian Cook
Brian Cook is a Policy Research Analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) where he conducts research on strategic competition, nuclear deterrence, emerging technologies, and climate change. He started his time at the lab as a graduate intern and a participant of the NSSC-LANL Keepin Nonproliferation Science Summer Program. Prior to Los Alamos, he interned for think tanks including the Truman National Security Project and the Gulf International Forum. Brian also has experience in the private sector working as an analyst and account manager in the field of digital advertising technology. His current interests revolve around the nexus of national security, geopolitics, and technology. He holds a Master’s degree in International Security Studies from the University of Arizona and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Paul Cormarie
Paul Cormarie is a Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation. His research primarily focuses on deterrence and force planning in the European region, and also works on AI and military applications of other emerging technologies. Paul is interested in expanding his knowledge on French nuclear deterrence strategy during this program. Previously, he was a Researcher at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as well as worked as a junior researcher for the Atlantic Council’s security program and Georgetown’s Center for Security Studies. He also interned at the United Nations, the EU Delegation to the UN, and CSIS. Paul is a dual French-US citizen and holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University.

Linde Desmaele
Linde Desmaele is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the MIT Security Studies Program and a Senior Associate Researcher (Non-Resident) at the Centre of Security, Diplomacy, and Strategy (CSDS) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Her areas of expertise include European security, US strategy, EU, NATO, defense policymaking and nuclear policy. Linde was formerly a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow in the MIT Security Studies Program and Belgian-American Educational Postdoctoral Fellow at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. Linde holds a PhD from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). Her doctoral work earned her the 2022 Global Strategy PhD Prize, jointly awarded by the European Security and Defence College (European External Action Service) and the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations (Belgium). She also holds an M.A. from Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies (Republic of Korea) and an M.A. from KU Leuven (Belgium).

Erica Fogerty
Erica Fogerty is a nuclear weapons scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the X Theoretical Design Division. Her research focuses on the technical aspects of device performance and effects using state-of-the-art modeling capabilities and simulation. Erica received her PhD in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Rochester in 2017, and completed a postdoctoral research position in the Center for Theoretical Astrophysics at LANL in 2019, studying the role of magnetic fields and turbulence in star formation. She has authored numerous open and classified papers on physics topics related to nuclear weapons performance and has been a frequent participant and invited speaker at international conferences. Erica is an active member of the nuclear threat assessment community at LANL, where she engages with interdisciplinary scientists and visiting scholars on a variety of topics related to modern nuclear deterrence. Her research interests include integrated and flexible nuclear deterrence, emerging technologies, and the rising "three-body" problem between nuclear near-peers.

Catherine Hodgson
Catherine Hodgson is a Master of Science in Foreign Service candidate at Georgetown University, with a concentration in Global Politics & Security and a focus on Russia and the former Soviet Union. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from New York University with majors in Economics and Politics. She previously interned with the Nuclear Threat Initiative (Nuclear Materials Security), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Nuclear Safeguards Policy), and the U.S. Department of Treasury. She is interested in continuing to explore the threat posed by hybrid conflict, nuclear proliferation, and security dynamics in Central and Eastern Europe.

Paulina Keim
Paulina "Polly" Keim is a Program Analyst in the Office of Production Operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In her role, she supports production specific multi-tail workload at all seven NNSA sites. She started her career in the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program, working in the Office of Domestic Uranium Enrichment and has since joined the Federal service. Polly holds a Bachelor’s in Political Economy and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Virginia (go Hoos!) In her free time, she enjoys yoga, reading, hiking, going to concerts, and playing with her cat Oppie. Polly is interested in understanding the workforce needs of the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) as it transitions from stockpile stewardship to a more responsive enterprise for the 21st century. Polly looks forward to engaging with senior leaders in the NSE and forging interpersonal relationships with her PONI cohort. She is originally from Tampa, FL and currently resides in Washington, DC.

Leigh Ann Kesler
Leigh Ann Kesler is an R&D Engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in the strategic planning and analysis office for weapons production. At LANL, she has worked on a diverse set of projects supporting weapons production and plutonium missions, including leading communications for her team, performing analysis on high-level production challenges, and creating reports and presentations for many different levels of the US nuclear security enterprise. Her work centers on bridging the communication gap between subject matter experts and others, including decision makers, the workforce, and the larger public. Prior to working for LANL, Leigh Ann was a consultant in science communication and fusion experimental science. She completed her PhD in Nuclear Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her PhD thesis focused on developing in situ materials monitoring for magnetic fusion devices using ion beam analysis.

Shane Knowles
Captain Shane A. Knowles is a Flight Commander and Weapons Officer, 742d Missile Squadron, 91st Missile Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. As Flight Commander, Capt Knowles is responsible for the squadron’s weapon system instructional programs and operations training for 84 crew members and staff officers. Qualified as a mission lead crew commander, instructor, and evaluator for the Minuteman III weapon system, he directs 15 missile crews, monitors 150 ICBMs, and oversees $3.3 billion in weapon system assets while operating in a launch control center. Capt Knowles received his commission in May 2017 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Connecticut. He served in multiple ICBM operations positions including Combat Crew Commander, Instructor, and Evaluator. He is certified on the Minuteman III, REACT-A weapon system.

Jung Jae Kwon
Jung Jae (JJ) Kwon is a Stanton Nuclear Security Research Fellow at the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in MIT’s Department of Political Science and the Security Studies Program. His dissertation examines strategic use of non-nuclear military power by U.S. allies in relation to extended nuclear deterrence. Jung Jae’s research interests more broadly include nuclear weapons in international politics, deterrence theory, and international relations of East Asia. Prior to MIT and Belfer, Jung Jae earned his M.A. in Politics and International Relations from the Yenching Academy of Peking University and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in Government. His service for the Republic of Korea Army included assignment to the ROKA 25th Infantry Division and a tour to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Chris Li
Chris Li is Director of Research for the Asia-Pacific Initiative at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, where he focuses on U.S.-China relations, Asia-Pacific security, and technology competition. His research interests also include Chinese history and politics, Taiwan and cross-strait relations, and emerging technology. Previously at the Center, Chris was a researcher with the Avoiding Great Power War Project and coordinator of the China Working Group. In that role, he also contributed to the China Cyber Policy Initiative and the Technology and Public Purpose Project, led by former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Chris received his B.A. in biology from Harvard University and a M.A. in Global Affairs from Tsinghua University, where he was a Schwarzman Scholar. Chris is currently completing his PhD in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard University.

Connor O’Brien
Connor Herrick O’Brien is from Connecticut and works as a wargaming analyst at Booz Allen Hamilton. Connor currently teaches at the University of Lviv through the Peace Corps Virtual Service Pilot. Prior to this Connor was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Polonne, Ukraine. Connor has a masters degree in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), with concentrations in American Foreign Policy and International Economics, and a focus on nuclear weapons. While at SAIS Connor interned for the State Department’s Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and founded the SAIS Nuclear Club. Connor received his undergraduate degree in International Relations from American University, where he now occasionally audits graduate courses. Connor is particularly interested in nuclear deterrence research.

Paul Opheim
Paul Opheim works as an Operations Research Analyst on the Nuclear Analysis Branch of the Office of Studies & Analyses in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force. In this role he has primarily focused on conventional-nuclear integration, studying how the Department of the Air Force can successfully continue conventional operations in the immediate aftermath of the limited use of nuclear weapons. Paul entered government service as a Presidential Management Fellow, and was a Policy Advisor in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction. In that position, he generated policy recommendations for senior leadership and worked with interagency and international partners to support U.S. government decision-making on countering weapons of mass destruction. He has a Master’s in Economics from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s in Economics from the University of Minnesota.

David Phillips
David Phillips is a Major in the United States Air Force and currently serves as a Future Operations Planner within the Global Operations Directorate at the United States Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. By trade, David is a Nuclear and Missile Operations Officer and has over 9,000 nuclear command and control alert hours in support of our national defense and strategic deterrent. Additionally, he is a qualified military instructor and evaluator with recent operational and planning experience at the combatant command level of responsibility. David holds a Master of Business Administration degree and Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Denver as well as a graduate certificate in Great Power Competition from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Anna Pluff
Anna is an NGFP fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History from Colgate University and completed her M.A. in History from the University of Chicago. Her thesis studied uranium mining, nuclear colonialism, and Lakota anti-nuclear activism in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Previously, she was a New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellow with the Federation of American Scientists researching scientific activism and nuclear one-worldism. She also worked as a Junior Fellow for the Partnerships in Proliferation Prevention Program at the Henry L. Stimson Center, analyzing nuclear security issues regarding domestic violent extremism and insider threat mitigation.

Samuele Polsinelli
Lieutenant Samuele Polsinelli is a submarine officer currently serving within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He is responsible for shaping Navy strategic deterrence policy, briefing senior leaders, and advising on nuclear transition risk. He previously served as the Chemistry and Radiological Controls Assistant and the Communications Officer aboard the USS ALABAMA (SSBN-731) where he completed three strategic deterrence patrols. Samuele earned a BS, with a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School where he researched ways to improve turbine engine efficiency.

Sophia Poteet
Sophia Poteet is a Program Coordinator and Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, where her work focuses on issues of gender and nonproliferation and disarmament, nonproliferation-related sanctions, proliferation finance, and emerging technology controls. She co-leads the Young Women in Nonproliferation Initiative at CNS and is a Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy focal point. Previously, Sophia has worked with the Small Arms Survey and the Nuclear Sites Project at the Global Decolonization Initiative. She holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University, where her thesis on gendered discourse in multilateral nuclear weapons treaty negotiations received the Sassano award for writing excellence in the social sciences. Her work has also appeared in Inkstick Media.

Austin Scheck
Austin Scheck is a senior nuclear weapon systems engineer at Sandia National Laboratories responsible for requirements on the W87-1 Modification Program. He coordinates system integration efforts between Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the United States Air Force, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the modernized land-based nuclear deterrent. Prior to joining Sandia, Austin supported high-resolution imaging satellite operations at DigitalGlobe (now Maxar Technologies). Austin received an MS and BS in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2021 with certificates in Engineering Management and Satellite System Design.

Jaewoo Shin
Jaewoo Shin is an analyst for Open Nuclear Network (ONN), a program of One Earth Future Foundation. He specializes in utilizing remote sensing techniques and open source information to analyze nuclear and missile programs. Before joining ONN, he undertook a fellowship at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center at KAIST. He also worked for CSIS Korea Chair, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the German Council on Foreign Relations. He received his BA in International Affairs from the University of St. Gallen, an MA-MSc in International Security and International Relations from Sciences Po Paris and LSE, and a Masters in Nuclear Safeguards from the Polytechnic University of Milan.

Gina Sinclair
Gina Sinclair is research assistant to Professor Scott D. Sagan at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, where she contributes to his research on nuclear targeting strategy and U.S. nuclear lawfare. Her research interests include nuclear security policy and how emerging technologies can be leveraged to strengthen U.S. deterrence. Prior to her position at CISAC, Gina spent time at the U.S. Department of State (Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Anduril Industries, and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS). Gina holds a B.A. in International Relations and History from Brown University. She was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and now lives in San Francisco, CA.

Iku Tsujihiro
Iku Tsujihiro is an MA candidate in the Security Studies Program (SSP) at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. She graduates from her program in May 2024. At SSP, she focuses on the U.S.-Japan economic and energy security alliance, U.S. military operations in the Indo-Pacific, and nuclear deterrence in Northeast Asia. Currently, she is a research intern for Hudson Institute’s Japan Chair Policy Center, reporting directly to Ken Weinstein and Masashi Murano. Her interest in the U.S.-Japanese bilateral security cooperation stems from her growing up in Tokyo and moving to the United States to study on her own at the age of twelve. She graduated from Brandeis University in May 2022 with double majors in Philosophy and Politics.

Cameron Vega
Cameron Vega (he/him) is a 2021 Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow interning at USNATO before joining the U.S. Foreign Service. He recently worked for the Office of Policy Coordination in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. This past year, Cameron was a New Voices on Nuclear Weapons Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists researching and writing on nuclear ethics. He is looking to continue this research as part of the PONI Nuclear Scholars Initiative. He is finishing his graduate degree in international relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and previously received his undergraduate degrees from Arizona State University in political philosophy and economic thought as well as political science. Cameron is originally from Mesa, Arizona.

Shane Ward
Shane is a McHenry Fellow and M.A. candidate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in the Security Studies Program. He sits on the leadership board of International Student/Young Pugwash (ISYP), where he co-leads the group’s flagship project on the Third Nuclear Age. Shane is also a member of BASIC’s Emerging Voices Network and the European Leadership Network’s inaugural New European Voices on Existential Risk (NEVER). Most recently, Shane worked as a public relations Associate at Kekst CNC in London across a broad mandate of FTSE 100 and Global 500 companies in energy, science & innovation, (cyber)security, and public affairs. He is a former intern with the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation and has been published multiple times in both Europe and the United States. Originally from the UK, Shane is a first-generation student and holds a BA cum laude from Bates College.

Tricia White
Tricia White is an analyst with Exiger Government Solutions where she supports federal clients to illuminate, understand, and remediate end-to-end supply chain risks. Prior to joining Exiger, Tricia was a Research Associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies where she worked on the New Tools team conducting open-source intelligence on adversarial nuclear and missile programs. She previously interned with the Federation of American Scientists on a variety of arms control and disarmament projects, worked as a Security Leadership Fellow at the Center for International Trade and Security at UGA, and supported a handful of local advocacy initiatives in her home state of Georgia. Tricia holds an MA in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and a BA with Honors in International Affairs and an Arabic minor from the University of Georgia.

Ashley Wiser
Ashley Wiser is a former Air Force nuclear launch officer “Missileer” and a current nuclear security professional in Washington, DC where she enjoys long walks above ground. She studied history and foreign language at the University of Iowa and earned her master’s in international relations from Troy University over many night shifts at a Minuteman III weapons console. A recent National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellow, she currently supports DOE/NNSA Office of Nuclear Verification through MELE Associates. In her free time, Ashley writes creatively on military topics and was recently featured in Inkstick and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, vol. 12.

Lily Wojtowicz
Lily Wojtowicz is a Ph.D. Candidate at American University in the School for International Service’s Department of International Relations. Her dissertation, “Extended Nuclear Deterrence: How Allies Assess Credibility During Credibility Crises,” explores how nuclear states assess their reliance on another’s nuclear arsenal during crises of confidence. Other research interests include Russian foreign policy, nonproliferation, US-Russian relations, and public opinion. She received an M.A. in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and a B.A. in International Relations from Beloit College. Wojtowicz has previously worked for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. Most recently, Wojtowicz served as the Janne E. Nolan Nuclear Security Fellow at the Truman Center.