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Biography

Dr Heather Williams is currently a visiting fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Project on Managing the Atom until summer 2022. From 2020-2021 she was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program. She is a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department and Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS). She is also an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a Senior Associate Fellow at the European Leadership Network and serves on the Wilton Park Advisory Council. She serves on the boards of the Nonproliferation Review and the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI). From 2018-2019, Dr Williams served as Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee inquiry into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Disarmament.

Heather is also an adjunct Research Staff Member in the Strategy, Forces, and Resources Division of the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Virginia, where she has worked since 2008 on U.S. nuclear policy. Until January 2015, Heather was a Research Fellow on Nuclear Weapons Policy at Chatham House and led research on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons Initiative. She has a PhD from the Department of War Studies at King's College London, a BA in International Relations and Russian Studies from Boston University, and an MA in Security Policy Studies from The George Washington University.

Research

  • History and theories of arms control
  • Impact of emerging technologies on deterrence and arms control
  • Social media and conflict escalation
  • Nuclear disarmament and the nuclear order
  • Trust-building in international relations

Dr Williams' research falls under three main strands: the future of arms control, disarmament and global nuclear order, and the impact of social media on international security.

Working within the Centre for Science and Security Studies, her research explores opportunities for trust-building across a wide array of security issues, and strives to produce policy-relevant outputs.

Her research is supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, MacArthur Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Department of Energy.

Teachings 

Dr Williams is willing to supervise students with a dissertation proposal on topics relating to arms control, emerging technology, deterrence, US-Russia relations, and NATO.

Publications

U.K. Nuclear Weapons: Beyond the Numbers,’ War on the Rocks.

The Unavoidable Technology: How Artificial Intelligence Can Strengthen Nuclear Stability,’ The Washington Quarterly.

War Time: Temporality and the Decline of Western Military Power,’ 11 The Limits of Technology: The Impact of Speed and Innovation on Western Military Primacy.

What the Nuclear Ban Treaty Means for America’s Allies,’ War on the Rocks.

Asymmetric Arms Control and Strategic Stability: Options for Limiting Hypersonic Glide Vehicles,’ Journal of Strategic Studies.

A nuclear babel: narratives around the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,’ The Nonproliferation Review.

Strategic Stability, Uncertainty, and the Future of Arms Control,’Survival.

Reports

Arms Control Idol - Ideas for the Future of Strategic Cooperation and Community

Remaining Relevant: Why the NPT Must Address New Emerging Technologies

Escalating by Tweet: Managing the New Nuclear Diplomacy

The P5 Process: Opportunities for Success in the NPT Review Conference

Further details

See Heather's research profile