Summer Interns Bring Expertise, Fresh Thinking and Top-Notch Research Skills to NTI

They’re in the corridors of the Capitol, at think tanks and advocacy groups, at nightclubs and on morning running routes, in the Metro and crowded in group houses. Come summer, Washington is awash in interns.

It’s true at the Nuclear Threat Initiative as well, where we welcome some of the world’s brightest young students every summer (and often during the school year, as well) to assist our programs with research, writing and fresh thinking on issues from U.S-Russia relations to cyber threats to biosecurity.

We’re committed to helping build a new generation of leaders on these important security issues and proud to host this summer’s exceptional group.

Margaret Williams

An international policy studies master’s candidate at Stanford University, Margaret also has extensive experience working on Capitol Hill where she covered defense and foreign policy issues for Senator Angus King, 

an Independent from Margaret’s home state of Maine. At Stanford, Margaret studies the role of nuclear weapons in the transatlantic security environment, civil-military relations, and intelligence oversight. 

In a previous life she was an expert whitewater kayaker and has navigated rivers around the globe, including in Russia and Mexico. 

Today, when she’s not studying, Margaret enjoys exploring the outdoors through running, swimming, and skiing. She is also a relentless advocate for the Pine Tree State.  

“As a Cold War nerd starting in high school, my eventual gravitation towards nuclear security issues was probably predictable. What has sustained my interest is the ways in which traditional approaches to strategic defense planning and arms control have been disrupted by new actors and new technologies. Moreover, today the tradition of non-use—enjoyed since the end of WWII—is jeopardized by increased nuclear saber-rattling and aggressive force posturing. Despite this worrisome threat environment, I remain convinced there are concrete steps we can make to reduce the likelihood that the nuclear threshold is crossed by either a state or a non-state actor; a perception cemented through my work in the U.S. Senate on the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the Iran deal). Nuclear weapons will remain a persistent security challenge well into the future, and I hope to be a part of the next generation of thought leaders tackling this critical problem-set.”

 Beenish Pervaiz

Beenish is a Pakistani master’s student in the International Policy Studies program at Stanford University. She has previously worked with Global Zero to lead grassroots activism in South Asia and help train future leaders in the field of nuclear security.

She is currently a youth group member of the CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization) and has also gained diplomatic experience working at the United Nations in New York. 

Having been a research assistant for Professor Scott Sagan and Martha Crenshaw at Stanford, she is very passionate about making a difference with regards to issues of nuclear politics and counterterrorism. 

Beenish is an avid cricket fan and loves to read about art history in her spare time.

“Having grown up under the shadow of numerous security challenges in Pakistan, it is easy to get discouraged and lose hope. Working for an organization like NTI has allowed me to channel my love for building a peaceful and safer world into practical research and action-oriented initiatives. Getting an opportunity to learn and become a part of the Biosecurity team at NTI has made me realize how grave a challenge it is and how unprepared the world is to face its devastating consequences. I feel ever-more empowered and inspired as a woman to come forward and try to tackle these hard issues, so that our generation can finish the work that many before us have started.”

Alex Bednarek

An NTI intern since September 2016, Alex was recently promoted to research assistant working with NTI’s Material Security and Minimization program.  He focuses on the nexus of nuclear/radiological material security 

and terrorist activities throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.

Prior to working for NTI, Alex served as an intern on the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee for Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade. He has also done work related to political consulting, territorial conflict and resolution, and international aid. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree from The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. 

In his first summer after college, Alex worked with former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush Karl Rove on his book, “The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters,” and is credited in the acknowledgements!

“As someone who has focused on terrorism and counterterrorism over the past several years, I fell into the nuclear field as an extension of that. Materials that can be used to create weapons of destruction and disruption are prevalent around the world, and terrorist organizations have, in many cases, stated or demonstrated their intent to do just that.

I think it is extremely important for people, especially the new generation of young professionals, to help continue to mitigate these threats, and it is an honor to have the chance to help NTI further its mission in this field!”

 Sarah Ann Benjamin

An undergraduate student at Stanford University, Sarah studies Political Science and East Asian History and plans to attend law school. For the past year and a half,  Sarah has been an assistant in Dr. Condoleezza Rice's office at the Hoover Institution,

where she will continue working during her senior year. She has also done research with Dr. Scott Sagan at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation. Sarah has spent the past five months in Washington, D.C. gaining extensive experience in US-East Asian affairs, particularly in U.S. policy toward North Korea, at the U.S. Department of State and NTI.

 

When not at her desk, she's either training for the San Francisco half marathon coming up in November, reading a good book on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or channeling her inner-foodie and finding the best restaurants in D.C with friends.

“The world is facing an ever-growing threat landscape fraught by weapons of mass destruction. I chose this particular field because contributing in even the slightest way to mitigating the risks posed by nuclear weapons for our nation’s security is a daunting, yet fulfilling task that I’m truly passionate about confronting, alongside fellow classmates and professionals in the field. Nuclear weapons will continue to threaten my generation, but I am excited to work with NTI in its pursuit to make the world a safer place for generations to come.”

Urvashi Rathore

As a Robin Copeland Memorial Fellow through CRDF Global, Urvashi is assisting NTI’s Material Security & Minimization program, working on radiological security projects. Before coming to Washington, she was a visiting fellow 

for three months at the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California studying science and technology for nonproliferation and terrorism studies, nonproliferation policies in South Asia, and international affairs in the digital age. She researched issues related to radiological security and wrote a paper titled, “Analysis of techniques for tracing orphan radioisotopes in India."

In New Delhi, India, Urvashi worked at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, where she assisted the Military Affairs Centre..

She is a graduate of Mody University in Rajasthan, India, with a bachelor’s degree in electronics & communication and a master’s degree in nuclear science & technology.

“As I am working on issues related to radiological security, I am concerned about orphan (lost or abandoned) radio-isotopes. It is a worldwide concern, but I am focusing on the Indian scenario and how these orphan radioisotopes affect life and the environment once they are in the public domain. Also, I am focused on the agenda of alternative technologies to replace all the high-activity sources in blood irradiators with effective alternatives such as X-ray machines. It is really important for younger generations to be concerned about the “dirty bomb” risk as young people are the future of the nuclear era. From an Indian perspective, it is really important to promote all young people to come forward because more than 50 % of the population is considered youth. It’s especially for  women to come up and create a professional identity because this is still very much hidden in India."

 

August 7, 2017
Authors
Mimi Hall
Mimi Hall

Senior Director for Content

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