Project on Nuclear Issues

Photo courtesy of US Defense Media Activity

A networked community of professionals prepared to meet the nuclear challenges of the future.

About the Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI)

The role that nuclear weapons play in international security has changed since the end of the Cold War, but the need to maintain the human infrastructure for supporting nuclear capabilities and dealing with the multitude of nuclear challenges remains the same. For a number of reasons, including the diminished emphasis on nuclear weapons post-Cold War, expertise on nuclear issues- particularly within young generations- has declined. Unless the nuclear community makes a concerted effort to engage young talent now, cultivating the expertise critical to meeting the nuclear challenges of the future will become increasingly difficult. The 21st century's complex geopolitical and budgetary environment demands a solid foundation of high-quality human capital across the nuclear enterprise. For this reason, in 2003, CSIS launched the Project on Nuclear Issues- to develop the next generation of policy, technical and operational nuclear professionals through outreach, mentorship, research and debate.

Since 2003, PONI has grown tremendously in both numbers and depth, and currently sponors numerous opportunities for young professionals to engage in thoughtful and informed debate over how to best address the nuclear community's most pressing problems.

The dividends of PONI's past decade of work are already evident, as alumni of the program- among them, the more than 185 talented young professionals who have gone through the Nuclear Scholars Initiative- are making their mark as emerging leaders in the nuclear field. But PONI continues to evolve, and to seek more ways of contributing to the nuclear community.

In April 2015, Rebecca Hersman took up the position of Director of the Project on Nuclear Issues after its founding Director, Clark Murdock, stepped down. Under her direction, PONI will still capitalize on the project's great name recognition, high-quality programming, and deep bench of committed mentors to cultivate the next generation of nuclear experts. But it will also strive to expand its outreach to address all career and academic levels, connect young professionals in collaborative research projects, broaden the topics it covers across the full range of nuclear issues, and include expertise from all critical domains- academic, military, scientific, and technical.

  • PONI Debates the Issues

    This blog pushes the nuclear debate forward with daily posts, original contributions by members, and guest commentary from senior experts.

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    The Conference Series draws emerging thought leaders from across the nuclear entperise and policy community, and provides them with a visible platform for sharing their new thinking on the full range of nuclear issues.

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    The debate series, an extension of the PDI blog, features top experts debating controversial nuclear issues one-on-one.

  • Nuclear Policy News

    The PONI Debates the Issues "Nuclear Policy News" features a daily compilation of nuclear news organized by subject. 

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    The Nuclear Scholars Initiative aims to provide top graduate students and young professionals from around the country with a unique venue to interact and dialogue with senior experts on nuclear weapons issues.

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    The PONI Reference Desk is dedicated to keeping an informative and up to date catalogue of relevant nuclear information.

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    A semi-annual publication that features analyses of current issues and which aims to provide innovative solutions to nuclear policy challenges. 

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    Given the international nature of modern nuclear issues, PONI collaborates with international partners on bilateral and multilateral exchanges, and constantly seeks new opportunities to promote well-rounded, globally-conscious thinking in the nuclear field.

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    Informing and influencing the next steps in U.S.-Russia arms control.



  • Research Associate and Program Manager, Project on Nuclear Issues
    (202) 741-3878

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