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Biography

Dr Heather Williams is a Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department and Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS). She is an Associate Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) a Senior Associate Fellow at the European Leadership Network. From 2018-2019 she 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 for the U.S. Department of Defense. 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.

Dr Williams currently leads project on the future of arms control, the impact of emerging technology on strategic stability, risks of social media to conflict escalation, and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 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. In addition to her research projects, Dr Williams is a co-convenor for the MA in Arms Control and International Security and teaches modules on the History and Politics of Arms Control, Arms Control Case Studies, and Understanding Deterrence in Theory and Practice.

Recent publications include ‘Asymmetric Arms Control and Strategic Stability: Options for Limiting Hypersonic Glide Vehicles’ in the Journal of Strategic Studies; ‘Strategic Stability, Uncertainty, and the Future of Arms Control’ in Survival; and ‘The Nuclear Education of Donald J. Trump’ in Contemporary Security Policy (with Jeffrey Michaels). Her book project examines the role of trust in U.S.-Russia nuclear arms control drawing on interviews with Russian and American negotiators. It attempts to tackle the levels of analysis problem in trust scholarship and argues that trust is situation-specific; however, individuals can play a consensus-building role in shaping trust preferences.

Subject areas

  • Trust in international relations
  • Arms control and strategic stability
  • Deterrence and assurance
  • Emerging technology
  • S. nuclear policy
  • Russian nuclear policy