Nuclear Scholars InitiativeClass of 2022

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Anna Armstrong
Anna Armstrong is a Graduate Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration in the Office of Nuclear Incident Response. She graduated from Texas A&M University, where she received her B.S. and M.S. in nuclear engineering and earned certificates in nuclear security and international affairs. Anna previously interned with the International Safeguards Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, with the United States Secret Service in Washington D.C., and with the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii on Capitol Hill.

Annika Kastetter
Annika Kastetter is a Policy Analyst at Systems Planning and Analysis, Inc. She supports clients across the Navy, where she specializes in strategic deterrence and arms control. While completing her master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, Annika was a Research Assistant at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction and for Dr. Caitlin Talmadge. Previously, Annika spent two years in Tbilisi, Georgia working for international and local development organizations on a variety of democratic governance projects. Annika grew up in Colorado and holds a BA in Political Science from Colorado College.

Aubrey Means
Aubrey Means is based in New York City and currently works in international sanctions compliance for BNP Paribas. She holds a Masters degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, where she focused on nuclear policy and Arabic language studies, while also working as a research assistant at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). Her research and career interests lie at the nexus of nonproliferation policy and promoting the use of nuclear energy as a means of combating climate change. Her work has dealt with strategic export controls, sanctions compliance, US-Russian cooperation on nuclear issues, and the broader nonproliferation regime. She has previous experience at Czech Technical University’s Nuclear Reactor Department as well as the Hudson Institute. Aubrey holds a BA in History and French from Willamette University.

Brandon Cortino
Brandon Cortino is currently a deterrence analyst for Constellation West where he supports U.S. Strategic Command’s Academic Alliance. He specializes on Russian thought in defense policy after living 19 months in Russia including a year studying advanced Russian at Saint-Petersburg State University. Previously he worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Center for Global Security Research and conducted research on Russian thought in arms control. He holds a Master in International Studies degree from North Carolina State University and was a nuclear policy research assistant for Dr. Robert Reardon with National Nuclear Security Administration funding.

Caitlyn Bess
Caitlyn Bess is a systems implementation and integration professional at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), where she works with international partners cultivating and maintaining strong nuclear security cultures. She joined SNL in 2021 after graduating with her MA in International Affairs concentrating in National Security and Diplomacy from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, where she was a Robertson Foundation for Government fellow. She received her BA in Public Communication from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri and is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Morocco 2016-2018). Her research interests revolve around the peaceful applications of nuclear technology and the necessary safety, security, and safeguards mechanisms to keep it from dangerous uses.

Charles Powell
Captain Charles Powell is a B-52 Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander for Conventional Operations with the 2d Operational Support Squadron at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. In his capacity as an Instructor Pilot, Captain Powell provides both conventional and nuclear training for bomber aircrew assuring global strike capability to Combatant Commanders and the National Command Authority. He has participated in Bomber Task Force missions in both the Indo-Pacific and European theaters. Captain Powell has also assisted USSTRATCOM in integrating and wargaming Conventional Nuclear Operations against modern adversaries. He is a community expert in Conventional Support of Nuclear Operations. His research interests include deterrence in the growing age of hypersonic weapons and advancing the Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications infrastructure. Captain Powell holds a B.S.B.A in Aviation Management from Auburn University.

Dan Zhukov
Dan Zhukov works at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) as a staff research assistant to Rose Gottemoeller. He began working at Stanford after graduating from UCLA in Summer 2020 with bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and History. At CISAC, Dan has been providing research and administrative support to Rose Gottemoeller, including fact-checking her memoir Negotiating the New START Treaty and managing her graduate-level course on new technologies for arms control verification. Dan presented a potential methodology for the U.S. and Russia to exchange nuclear warhead data at the 2021 PONI Winter Conference and is excited to conduct research on cyber-driven risks of nuclear escalation at the Nuclear Scholars Initiative. Dan was born and raised in Russia and now lives in San Jose, CA.

Daniel Gum
Captain Daniel Gum is a nuclear engineer for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, currently stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA. He leads a rapid prototyping team that develops machine learning and artificial intelligence tools in support of Department of Defense Combatant Commands and their efforts in countering weapons of mass destruction. He received a bachelor of science degree in Physics and Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University, and a master’s in Nuclear Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Previously, Daniel worked at the Air Force Research Laboratory, developing innovative warfighter technologies for defeating improvised explosive devices and weapons of mass destruction.

Diana Myers
Diana Myers is a doctoral candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an Air Force fellow at the RAND Corporation where she specializes in North Korean and Chinese military strategic studies. She is also a research associate at the Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Her PhD dissertation explores North Korea’s evolving military threat towards China, particularly with respect to nuclear weapons. In addition to her academic pursuits, Diana is also a member of the Air Force Language Enabled Airmen Program (LEAP), and maintains a native-level proficiency in Korean. Previous to RAND, Diana worked as a constituent advocate intern for US Senator Michael Bennet, and as a research assistant at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies. She received her B.S. in political science and officer commission from the United States Air Force Academy and serves as an active duty officer in the United States Air Force.

Dilan Ezgi Koç
Dilan Ezgi Koç is a second-year master in Global Affairs student at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Her research interests include international security issues, mainly arms control, nuclear policy, and cybersecurity. She worked as an intern at the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, focusing on the history of Iraq’s nuclear program and nuclear decision-making. Dilan has also conducted research on Iran and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a Kerry Fellow at Yale, working for the former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. She is one of the ten UN Youth Champions for Disarmament at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, working on issues such as the impact of disruptive emerging technologies on nonproliferation and disarmament.

Erica Symonds
Erica Symonds is a Foreign Affairs Specialist at the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) in the Office of Nuclear Verification. In this role, she focuses on preparedness for rapid deployments worldwide for nuclear monitoring and verification missions in addition to Chemical Weapons Convention implementation and related policy and technical considerations. Erica joined DOE/NNSA as a Graduate Fellow in the Office of Nonproliferation and Arms Control, where she worked on international nuclear safeguards, export controls, nuclear verification, and other nonproliferation issues. Erica holds a M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, where she studied nuclear, space, and cyber policy, and a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has previous experience at the State Department, NASA, U.S. Senate, Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, and the Nuclear Security Working Group.

George Basaly
George Basaly is an Engineering Systems Professional in the Center for Global Security and Cooperation at Sandia National Labs. At Sandia, George supports MENA and South Asia engagement for Sandia’s Cooperative Monitoring Center (CMC), promoting cooperative nuclear counterproliferation. In this capacity, George assists in convening Track 1.5/2 dialogues, facilitates wargames, leads cooperative research studies in partner countries, and supports Sandia training workshops and laboratory visits. Prior to joining Sandia, he gained Middle East expertise at the Institute for the Study of War, and previously worked at Ernst & Young’s Office of Public Policy, where he focused on cybersecurity policy. He previously held various positions in investment management and management consulting, focusing mostly on risk analysis. George holds a MPA in security studies/public policy from The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and a BE in chemical engineering from the City College of New York.

Jack Stein
Jack Stein is a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. Department of State. In this role, he works on Treaty on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, conventional arms control, Arctic security, and space issues. Jack first joined the Department of State in May 2019 as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) in the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance’s Office of Euro-Atlantic Security Affairs. While there, Jack supported efforts to enhance Europe’s security architecture through modernization of the Vienna Document and other confidence and security building measures. As a PMF, Jack completed two rotations: first with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy’s Office of Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia and his second with the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ Office of Regional Security & Political-Military Affairs. Jack received his M.A. in Regional Studies – Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe from Columbia University in 2018 and a B.A. in History from American University in 2016.

Jaejoon Kim
Born in South Korea and raised in suburban Massachusetts, JJ (Jaejoon) Kim is a Master’s Candidate in Security Studies at Georgetown University, where he specializes in nuclear security, ballistic missiles, and the Korean Peninsula. Prior to graduate school, JJ worked at a number of D.C.-based think tanks for Korea policy, as well as a California-based consulting firm dedicated to sustainable and equitable urban development. He was a guest speaker at the 2021 PONI Summer Conference and the 2021 STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

James Kelley
Captain James Kelley is currently an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Test Operator at the 576 Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg Space Force Base, Calif. He is responsible for day-to-day planning, execution, and reporting activities for a $4.7 billion Minuteman III Operational Test and Evaluation program for Air Force Global Strike Command. Ultimately, he ensures mission accomplishment through compliance, validation, and continuous improvement for the Minuteman III weapon system. Capt. Kelley served his operational tours as a Nuclear and Missiles Operations Officer at Minot AFB and Malmstrom AFB where he became an Instructor, Evaluator, Flight Commander, and ultimately led planning and execution of the Wing Commander’s Inspection Program as the Deputy Director of Inspections.

Jasmin Alsaied
Lieutenant Jasmin Alsaied graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering with a minor in mathematics. She earned her commission through the NROTC program and was subsequently stationed onboard USS LASSEN (DDG 82). During her four years attached to USS LASSEN, she completed a Middle East deployment with the TRUMAN Strike Group, participated in the maiden voyage for HMS Queen Elizabeth, GERALD R. FORD shock trials, and engaged in Caribbean counter-narcotic operations. On shore, LT Alsaied has recently worked on Capitol Hill, with several national security think tanks, and as a Global Fellow of Public Affairs at H+K Strategies. She is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is focusing on counterproliferation and Indo-Pacific security challenges.

Jesse Altum
Jesse Altum is a current Graduate Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration, where he serves under the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation in Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence. He works on projects related to detection investigations, nuclear forensics, internal security law enforcement, and international stakeholder and IAEA engagement. His research centers on advanced technology, nuclear command and control systems, signaling manipulation, synthetic data, and impacts on U.S. strategic deterrence planning and infrastructure investments. He works with Booz Allen Hamilton as a data scientist in the Strategic Innovation Group focused on federal law enforcement, artificial intelligence, data architecture, and advanced technology applications for future focused deployments. He served as a Pathways program analyst with the Department of State, a Rosenthal International Relations Fellow and Honors Intern with the FBI, a Sanders Fellow with GW, and as a Scottish Rite Masonic Fellow. Jesse earned his M.A. in International Security Policy Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is seeking a nuclear graduate certificate with Harvard University. Originally from Colorado, Jesse lives in Washington, D.C. and enjoys hiking the Appalachian trail and kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay.

John Madeira
John Madeira is currently a project associate for CRDF Global where he works on the North Korean Counterproliferation program. Specifically, John’s work focuses on implementing cybersecurity programs for international audiences to help prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Prior to joining CRDF Global, John gained experience at multiple Washington D.C. think tanks where his research focused on a variety of international security issues, including climate change, WMDs, and U.S.-African relations. John holds a B.A. in International Relations and a M.I.A. in Non-Traditional Security from the Pennsylvania State University.

Josh Chang
Josh Chang is an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), where he supports studies on military operations and defense policy on behalf of Department of Defense (DoD) partners. He focuses on U.S. defense strategy, force planning, missile defense, nuclear weapons, and military alliances. He previously worked for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Long Term Strategy Group (LTSG), where he conducted research on Indo-Pacific security issues and great power competition. He also focuses on Western Hemisphere security issues and great power competition in Latin America, with his work on these subjects featured in outlets such as the Georgetown Security Studies Review, the National Interest, and Small Wars Journal. He holds an M.A. in Security Studies and a B.S.F.S in International Politics with honors from Georgetown University as well as a certificate in wargaming from the Military Operations Research Society (MORS). 

Karina Touzinsky
"Karina Touzinsky is the Director for Strategic Systems and Hypersonic Weapons in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Ship Programs (DASN Ships) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RD&A), responsible for advising DASN Ships on matters pertaining to the Navy’s nuclear weapons delivery system, nuclear security, and hypersonic weapons, including the Navy’s TRIDENT II D5 Strategic Weapons System, the TRIDENT II D5 Life Extension 2 (D5LE2) Program, and the Conventional Prompt Strike program. Prior to this, Karina worked on conventional treaties and agreements for the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) and was the lead conventional analyst for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Threat Reduction and Arms Control (OASD/NCB(TRAC)), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information and Integration Portfolio Management (USD/A/SSIPM(SDC)), and for Headquarters Air Force Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration (HAF/A10P)."

Lansing Horan
Lansing Horan is currently a nuclear engineer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. He conducts research and development for AFTAC’s Atmosphere and Space Program in the 23rd Analysis Squadron. Lansing is certified as one of the select handful of T-technique/Satellite Alert Officers in the U.S. government. In this role, he analyzes operational data collected by radiation sensors on satellites, accomplishing critical national-level nuclear treaty monitoring missions on the AFTAC alert team. Lansing received a MSc in Nuclear Engineering in 2020 from the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He attended AFIT as a civilian with funding awarded by the DoD SMART Scholarship, and his master’s research on asteroid deflection by means of nuclear explosives is published in Acta Astronautica. In 2018, Lansing earned a BS in Nuclear Engineering from Texas A&M University. Previously, he was an intern in high-energy-density physics at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in the summers of 2017 and 2018. Lansing’s research interests include nuclear device design and effects, astrophysics, and fusion/plasmas.

Luis Rodriguez
J. Luis Rodriguez is a Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. His research centers on how developing countries build and maintain limits on the use of force in international law. He focuses on the origins of the nuclear order primarily from a Latin American perspective. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he served as a Nuclear Security Fellow with the Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil. Before joining the Ph.D. program at Hopkins, he was a junior advisor to the Mexican Vice-Minister for Latin American Affairs, working on international security cooperation in the region.

Pallabi Mitra
Pallabi Mitra is a Sandia National Laboratories staff member working in the Nuclear Deterrence program area that is responsible for the management of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. Her work consists of conducting detailed analysis and reporting on programmatic status pertaining to the nuclear weapons mission space at Sandia. Pallabi holds a MSc in Media, Communication and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and received her B.S. from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Before joining Sandia, Pallabi completed the U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration Graduate Fellowship Program with Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s Office of Radiological Security (ORS). Upon completing the fellowship in 2017, she joined ORS as a contractor, where she supported multiple international portfolios as a Program Manager. Pallabi’s role at ORS played an integral role in molding her understanding of international nuclear and radiological security and developing an interest to continue exploring the nexus between science, technology and policy.

Sebastian Brixey-Williams
Sebastian Brixey-Williams is the Co-Director of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC). His research explores legal, institutional, and normative approaches to regulate and control strategic weapons technologies and their associated risks, as well as the factors that will enable transition towards more sustainable systems of security. Since 2016, he has led the Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities in collaboration with the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham, which aims to deepen international trust and dialogue on states’ responsibilities in relation to nuclear weapons. He holds a Master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where he received the Postgraduate School’s Prize. In 2020-2021, Sebastian was an N Square Fellow working to strengthen the sustainability of the transatlantic nuclear policy field.

Tom Stockman
Tom Stockman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Nuclear Engineering and Nonproliferation Division’s Safeguards Science and Technology group (NEN-1). Tom’s current research primarily focuses on the development and implementation of in situ nuclear material monitoring technologies involving the creation of novel computational algorithms and detector hardware, and he manages the nuclear material testbed where these technologies are proven. Tom also instructs both domestic and international professionals in NEN’s school on nuclear material control, accounting, and nondestructive assay and has a growing interest in understanding the complex geopolitical context which necessitates the technologies he develops. Tom has previous research experience in nuclear and aerospace manufacturing including some time at NASA and hobby research which has been published in the fields of astronomy and medicine. Tom has a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a M.S. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Mississippi State University.

Zachary Brown
Zack Brown is the Nuclear Security Working Group Congressional Fellow for Congressman Jim Cooper, where he handles issues relating to nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear forces, missile defense, national security space programs, and strategic deterrence. Previously, Zack worked as the policy associate and special assistant to the president at Ploughshares Fund, a nuclear security foundation. He joined that organization while finishing his master’s degree at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he specialized in nuclear policy – specifically force planning and strategy, weapons design and production, arms control and nonproliferation, and the evolution of deterrence theory from 1945 to the present. Zack received his BA in Government and Economics from the College of William & Mary. His writings appear in Defense One, The National Interest, and Responsible Statecraft.