Kathleen Vogel first became interested in biological weapons during her graduate work in the sciences at Princeton University, where she developed a side interest in science policy issues. After receiving her Ph.D. in biological chemistry, I transitioned from a scientific career to one in science policy. For the next five years, Kathleen conducted security policy research at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies within the Monterey Institute of International Studies, the Peace Studies Program at Cornell University, the Cooperative Monitoring Center at Sandia National Laboratories, the Institute for Public Policy at the University of New Mexico, and the Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction in U.S. Department of State. 

Although these policy-oriented positions were fruitful learning experiences, Kathleen was not satisfied with the existing tools and policy frameworks for understanding bioweapons threats and how to design appropriate policy responses. Her own bioweapons-related research indicated a much more complex set of factors that seemed to shape proliferation threats compared to existing policy discourse. This dissatisfaction has led to the search for and discovery of alternative theoretical tools that reshape the discourse centered around biological weapons, with the hopes of creating a new and generative intellectual conversation between academia and policy.


B.A. Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, Drury College; M.A., Chemistry, Princeton University; Ph.D. Chemistry, Princeton University.

Project Summary

This project will create a new unclassified dialogue between nongovernmental experts and intelligence analysts focused on issues of expertise and secrecy in intelligence assessments on weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The project will form unclassified study groups that will examine how WMD assessments can involve an integrated synthesis of social and technical factors, drawing on important sources of unclassified information and methodologies.  One study group will examine bioweapons technologies; the other will examine nuclear weapons technologies.  The goal of these study groups is to discuss new, unclassified, multidisciplinary social science approaches to studying WMD problems that can be useful to intelligence assessments.  This proposed project aims to provide information and expertise to improve the accuracy of WMD assessments in order to better inform U.S. national security policymaking.