Nunn School Partnership Helps Security Students Across Campus Get Research to Policymakers

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A partnership led by faculty in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs is helping students across campus get their research in front of policymakers. For years, the Nunn School has worked with The Cipher Brief, an Atlanta-based media organization that discusses and provides further context on the security issues of the day. Students and faculty from the College of Engineering, College of Sciences, and Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts have had their research published through this partnership.

Research topics range from US-China relations to the security-related roles of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and neurotechnology. Authors share their work in a non-academic setting, writing specifically for the people who create policy.

“This is a way for students to have an outlet to active policymakers,” said Associate Professor Margaret E. Kosal, who formed the partnership alongside retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, a distinguished professor of the practice in the Nunn School. “It also provides a way for students to practice or learn to write for the policy community, as the writing is different than what they are more accustomed to for classes.”

Since its founding, the program has merged with The Cipher Brief’s Academic Incubator Program, which features security-focused schools across the country.

Georgia Tech students have seen incredible success through publishing their work with The Cipher Brief. Noah Crafts, a master’s student in international security, is the most recent Yellow Jacket to utilize the Academic Incubator Program. His essay, “How China’s State-Owned Enterprises Factor Into Cross-Border Financing,” was published in November.

“As international affairs students, we often conduct research and develop analyses as part of our curriculum requirements,” Crafts said. “However, The Cipher Brief has afforded me the opportunity to share my research with policymakers and the larger international affairs community.”

Joy Putney, then a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Biological Science and a 2020–2021 Sam Nunn Security Fellow, was invited to brief members of the Japanese government on her findings. Her essay, published in July 2021, was titled “Neurotechnology for National Defense: the U.S. and China.” It discussed how China is the better-prepared nation when it comes to capitalizing on disruptive neurotechnologies, both for civilian and military use.

Other successful publications include Matthew O’Shaughnessy’s September 2020 essay “Will Machine Learning Supercharge Online Disinformation?” In it, O’Shaughnessy, a 2019-2020 Sam Nunn Security Fellow and then-Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, analyzed three specific ways in which machine learning tools could spread disinformation on social media.

The Nunn School’s Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy sponsors the Sam Nunn Security Fellowship.

“Students are having a real-world impact on global issues with this program,” Kosal said. “It’s an extra value-added piece that builds on the foundational skills that we teach and provides students with an opportunity that they might not get elsewhere.”

Those interested in publishing their research with The Cipher Brief should email Kosal at

The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs is a unit of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.


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