Amy J. Nelson is a fellow in the Foreign Policy program and with the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology. She first joined Brookings as a David M. Rubenstein Fellow. Her research focuses on emerging, evolving, and disruptive technologies and their impact on proliferation, as well as improving the efficacy of arms control. She was previously a Robert Bosch Fellow in residence at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, Germany. There, her research focused on the current state of German military/dual-use innovation and prospects for future U.S.-German/E.U. competition and cooperation. She participated as a member of the U.S. arms control delegation to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe while conducting dissertation research.

Nelson is currently working on a book on next generation arms control. Drawing on recent findings from the decision sciences, the book presents a new theory of arms control as a tool of uncertainty management in the security realm. The book also uses the analysis of a novel dataset to incorporate empirically derived best practices into the negotiation of arms control agreements to overcome the effects of uncertainty. Finally, using the dataset, the book tracks trends in arms control over time, and provides analysis of recent events and developments in weapons technology to assess the current state of arms control and its likely future.

Nelson’s writings have appeared in The Texas National Security Review, Foreign Affairs, Strategic Studies Quarterly, the National Interest, the Washington Post, War on the Rocks, the International Business Times, the Millennium Journal of International Studies, Political Psychology, and the Journal of Neurophysiology. She has authored reports and occasional papers for the Brookings Institution, the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.  She received her bachelor’s in philosophy with honors from Stanford University; has a master’s in intellectual history from Columbia University; and a master’s and doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.


  • Missile Dialogue Initiative at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, advisory board member
  • Missouri State University’s Department of Defense and Strategic Studies, adjunct faculty
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Science and Technology Experts Group (ISTEG), member
  • University of Maryland, School of Public Policy, Center for International and Security Studies, affiliated researcher
  • Past Positions

    • The Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction, National Defense University
    • Bosch Fellow (in residence), Robert Bosch Foundation, German Council on Foreign Relations
    • Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
    • Policy Analyst, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Education

    • Ph.D. and M.A., University of California Berkeley
    • M.A., Columbia University
    • B.A., Stanford University
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