About / CV

My research analyzes the way that various groups determine what counts as research and technology of security concern, and how that process of shaping things of security concern also shapes the governance system around them. It draws on and contributes to the literature on classification, boundary work, international political/technological institutions, and the co-production of social and technological systems. Topically, I am currently focused on the governance of security concerns within synthetic biology, and have an ongoing interest in the governance systems for conventional and cyber “dual-use” technology.

A short overview of my approach to research circa 2014

I am a Lecturer and Research Associate at Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a Research Fellow in Harvard’s Program on Science, Technology, and Society at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Research Affiliate in the Program on Emerging Technology at the Center for International Studies at MIT, and a Research Affiliate at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.

I also maintain the “STS & Security” and “Building STS” email lists, which you’re welcome to join if they are of interest. If you are interested in more general STS discussion, you might consider joining the STSGrad email list

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Research Interests

Topical Areas:

  • Security controls on international trade, especially the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
  • The construction and governance of security concerns within synthetic biology
  • Dual-use research of concern
  • The relationship between Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars and those they study

Theoretical Areas:

  • Science & Technology Studies, especially:
    • The coproduction of social and knowledge systems
    • Ambiguity, uncomfortable knowledge, and the social construction of non-knowledge
    • Classification systems, particularly how we catergorize items as malicious or not (e.g. “dual-use” research and technology)
  • International security
  • Cultural Theory (building on the work of Mary Douglas)

My Zotero Library  View my Zotero reference library to see a complete list of articles I work with.



  • Security concerns in emerging technology: creating learning feedback loops,” Invited talk given to the Arizona Biosecurity Workshop, Arizona State University, 7-8 December 2017.
  • (With Megan Palmer) “Science governance through anomaly-handling: the case of gene drives,” Invited talk, EnLIGHTeNING Lunch Seminar Series, School for the Future of Innovation and Society, Arizona State Univeristy, 6 December 2017.
  • “Reimagining the governance of objects of security concern,” Invited talk presented at Workshop on Regulating Knowledge Flows in the Global Age, Georgetown Univeristy, 8-10 November 2017.
  • “Make me an anomaly and I will raise/raze a world: making objects of security non-concern in synthetic biology and geoengineering,” Presentation to the Society for the Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting, Boston, 29 August 2017.
  • “Dual-Use in Perspective,” Invited talk presented at the Workshop on Maintaining Innovation and Security in Biotechnology: Lessons Learned from Nuclear, Chemical and Information Technologies, Lawerence Livermore National Laboratory, 1 August 2017.
  • “Know the signs of hubristic governance!” Invited talk presented to the Workshop on Governing Complex and Emerging Technologies: Lessons for the Governance of Climate Engineering, Berkeley, California, 9 February 2017.
  • “Constructing New Security Concerns in the Life Sciences,” Presentation to the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Dual Use Research of Concern: Options for Future Management, Washington DC, 4 January 2017.
  • Words of Caution in Making Objects of Security Concern,” Presentation to the Cambridge Catastrophic Risk Conference, Clare College, Cambridge University, 12-14 December 2016.
  • “Bugs, features, and the handling of anomalies in governing gene drives,” (With Megan Palmer) Presentation to the Harvard University Program on Science, Technology and Society Fellows Group, 22 March 2016.
  • “It’s not a bug, it’s a feature: Policy and political aspects of gene drives,” (with Megan Palmer) Invited paper for the NSF workshop on Gene Drives at North Carolina State University, 25 February 2016.
  • “Horizon scanning for responsible innovation,” Presentation given to the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program, Asilomar Conference Center, 17 March 2015.
  • “Taking care of security in practice: Some notes from the ground as we all get DURCed,” Presentation for Biological and Chemical Security in an Age of Responsible Innovation, Royal Society, London, 19-21 November 2014.
  • “Is this a threat? The (un)making of security concerns in emerging technology,” paper given to the Harvard History of Science seminar series, 21 October 2014.
  • “Taking care of security in synthetic biology research”, paper given at the side event of the Biological Weapons Convention Meeting of Experts, 6 August 2014. Geneva. Slides.
  • “Broader Aspects of Bioengineering,” presentation to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 18 June 2014.
  • “Making Security a Matter of Non-Concern in Synthetic Biology,” presentation at the Year 8 Synberc Spring Retreat, University of California, Berkeley, 26 March 2014.
  • “The Value of Collaborative Framings in Gaining Access to, and Analyzing, Security Concerns in Research and Development” paper presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science annual conference, San Diego, California, 12 October 2013.
  • “Getting Security Off the Mind: When is It Ok to Not Think About the Security Aspects of Synthetic Biology” paper presented at the Issues and Non-issues in Science and Medicine Symposium, University of Exeter, 28 September 2013.
  • “Whoops! How Did That Get Through? Knowledge and Ignorance at the Intersection of Academia and National Security” paper presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science annual conference, Copenhagen, 16 October 2012.
  • (with Walter Valdivia) “Export Controls and the Tensions Between Academic Freedom and National Security,” poster presented at the Gordon Science and Technology Policy Conference, Waterville Valley Resort Waterville Valley, NH, August 5-10, 2012.
  • “Technology Control and Imagined International Orders,” paper presented to the Society for Philosophy and Technology conference, Denton Texas, 27 May 2011. Also presented to the UC Berkeley Center for Science, Technology, Medicine, & Society Brownbag seminar.
  • “States, borders, and security: exports controls in physical space and cyberspace,” invited paper presented to Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Program in Science,Technology, and Society, 10 January 2011. Also given at the Naval Postgrad School, 11 January 2011. Slides.
  • “Imaginaries of State Security”, paper given at the Science Democracy Network annual meeting, in conjunction with the British Royal Society’s 350th celebrations, Kavli House, UK, 28-30 2010.
  • “The Bounds of Applicability of Export Controls”, paper given at The Rightful Place of Science? conference at CSPO, Arizona State University, 16-19 May 2010.
  • “Finding Common Ambiguity: what is left out of dual-use technology definitions”, paper given at the Uncertainty: Ambiguity and Doubt in Knowledge Production conference at Stanford University, 23-24 April 2010.
  • “Technological Ambiguity in Export Controls: A tool for legitimacy?”, invited presentation to the Cornell University Peace Studies Program, jointly sponsored by the Cornell Department of Science & Technology Studies, 11 March 2010.  (PDF of slides; Streaming quicktime movie of the slides)
  • How do we prevent the malicious use of technology? Can we?” Presentation the the New College Graduate Colloquium, University of Oxford, 22 October 2008.
  • “Is it possible to define technologies to be controlled?” Talk given to the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, California on 26 August 2008.
  • Governing trade in dual-use items: the problem of definition” Paper prepared for The 2008 Oxford/Sciences-Po Doctoral Seminar on Regional and Global Institutions in the 21st Century, 1 May 2008.
  • “‘You want to control technology? Fine, give me a list.’ ‘It’s not that easy, sir.'”, Talk given to the James Martin 21st Century School Advanced Research Seminar Series, University of Oxford, 16 November 2007.
  • “International Relations, Cultural Theory, and STS: Can these children learn to play together?”, Presentation given to the James Martin Institute Work in Progress Seminar, University of Oxford, 15 May 2007.
  • “The Wassenaar Arrangement: The unsexiest of international regimes”, Invited talk given to CPASS Speaker Series, Georgetown University, 11 April 2007.
  • “Governing the Unknown Knowns: A reply to Jerry Ravetz”, Presentation given to the James Martin Institute Work in Progress Seminar, University of Oxford, 31 October 2006.
  • “Defining Dual-Use: An international assessment of the discourses around technology”, Talk given to the ESRC New Directions in Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Workshop, King’s College London, 27 February 2006.
  • “Pluralistic Tools for Policy Analysis,”  Talk given to the Mid-Summer YSSP Workshop, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, 20 July 2005.

Positions held

Grants & Awards


  • “Security, Science, and Technology” (2016) Harvard University Graduate Course, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • “Technoscience & the State” (2016) Tufts University Undergraduate core course for degree in Science and Technology Studies
  • “Science & Security” (2015) undergraduate course, History of Science, Harvard.
  • “Science & Society” (2013) History undergraduate course, University of California, Berkeley. Instructor of Record
  • “Introduction to Technology & Society” (2010-2012) Undergraduate core course, Harvard University. Head Teaching Fellow
  • “Science & Security”(2005-2006) Tutorials for Stanford House (visiting students), University of Oxford.
  • “Technology and Innovation Strategy”(2004-2005) MBA Programme, University of Oxford. Teaching Assistant.


Other Activities