The Center congratulates the Class of 2019 from its Security Studies Program. Fiona Cunningham, Reid Pauly, and Ketian Zhang have graduated or are graduating in this commencement cycle and will receive a PhD in political science at MIT. We wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.
Fiona Cunningham is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology and conflict, with an empirical focus on China. She received her PhD in September 2018 from the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was a member of the Security Studies Program. Her dissertation explained China’s development of space, cyber and conventional missile force postures as substitutes for using nuclear weapons to coerce adversaries. Her research is based on extensive fieldwork, including a year-long dissertation research fellowship at the Renmin University of China, Beijing, in 2015-6. She was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow in the Cyber Security Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in 2017-8. Fiona’s research has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, China Confucius Studies Program, and the MIT Center for International Studies. Her research on China's nuclear strategy has been published in the quarterly journal, International Security. Fiona holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations from the University of New South Wales and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney, both with first-class honors. She was a research associate at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney from 2009 until 2012, where she focused on extended nuclear deterrence in East Asia and nuclear nonproliferation. Fiona speaks Mandarin Chinese and French.
Reid Pauly received his PhD in Political Science at MIT and was a member of the Security Studies Program. He is currently a predoctoral fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. His dissertation explains the causes of credible coercive assurance--why and how targets of coercion believe that they will not be punished after they comply with demands. His broader research interests include nuclear proliferation, nuclear strategy, deterrence and assurance theory, wargaming, and Arctic security. He was a Summer Associate at the RAND Corporation in 2016. Prior to graduate school, Reid was a research assistant at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University, and earned a BA in History and Government from Cornell University.
Ketian Vivian Zhang received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018, where she is also an affiliate of the Security Studies Program. In the 2017-2018 academic year, she was a Predoctoral Research Fellow in the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School. Beginning Fall 2018, Dr. Zhang will be a Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.
Dr. Zhang studies coercion, economic sanctions, and maritime territorial disputes in international relations and social movements in comparative politics, with a regional focus on China and East Asia. She bridges the study of international relations and comparative politics and has a broader theoretical interest in linking international security and international political economy. Her book project examines when, why, and how China uses coercion when faced with issues of national security, such as territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, foreign arms sales to Taiwan, and foreign leaders’ reception of the Dalai Lama. Dr. Zhang uses her native Chinese language capability to do extensive fieldwork in various cities in China, including conducting interviews with Chinese officials and scholars. She has done three years of fieldwork in both China and the United States. Her research has been supported by organizations such as the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, Institute for Security and Conflict Studies at George Washington University, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.
Dr. Zhang holds a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was previously a research intern at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., where she was a contributor to its website Foreign Policy in Focus. An interview about her and her research can be found here.