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Contributor Since 18 September 2019

Mentor Background

What is your area of expertise?

  • Nuclear disarmament
  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • Policy
  • Other
  • Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?

  • High School Students
  • College Students
  • How did you become interested in this area?

    I have always been interested in International Relations and took a Russian history course in HS.  We took a trip that winter (yes winter!) to Moscow and was still the Soviet Union and Gorbachev was in power.  Then, in college, I continued to study security studies--our university did what we called a "space bridge" and now maybe it's just a conference call ...with Moscow University students to talk about nuclear weapons and arms control. Kurt Vonnegut was on one of the panels.  Two days before I was to leave to study abroad in August of 1991, the coup took place.  There were tanks on the streets of Moscow. I went to Leningrad anyway and left St. Petersburg six months later.  

    What was your career path to get here?

    After college, I went to the Peace Corps -- in Turkmenistan. One of my "side projects" was an English Language Model UN project for University students across the country. I returned to graduate school and the Department of Energy was recruiting fellows to work and live in the FSU doing nuclear nonproliferation.  They hired me to work in Kazakhstan.  After a year in that position, Argonne National labs West (now Idaho) hired me to do some on the ground project management.  I stayed for another year... until 9/11... after that, I worked on nuclear security, primarily with Russia and other aspects of nuclear-- from nonproliferation, to security, to safety, to energy.

    Why should the public care?

    The devastation, both physical and psychological, that would be wrought by a detonation of a nuclear weapon on a human population would be tremendous.  We should care, because nuclear weapons are a foreign policy tool, in the form of a deterrent--because a nuclear weapon in the wrong hands, would be disastrous -- as a tool of coercion or as a tool of terror. 

    What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?

    I am worried about the erosion of the US infrastructure surrounding nuclear weapons. I am concerned that the public isn't as aware of the consequences of nuclear choices and perhaps have forgotten the lessons of the past.  I am worried about North Korea and Iran but also of the use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia or a rogue element in Pakistan. I also worry about the potential of a terrorist acquisition. 

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