Caitlin Talmadge

Caitlin Talmadge

Caitlin Talmadge is an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Her research and teaching focus on nuclear deterrence and escalation, U.S. military operations and strategy, and security issues in Asia and the Persian Gulf.

Talmadge is author of “The Dictator’s Army: Battlefield Effectiveness in Authoritarian Regimes” (Cornell, 2015), which Foreign Affairs named the “Best Book in Security” for 2016 and which won the 2017 Best Book Award from the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association. She also is co-author of “U.S. Defense Politics: the Origins of Security Policy” (fourth edition 2021, Routledge, with Harvey Sapolsky and Eugene Gholz). Her current book project, co-authored with Professor Brendan Rittenhouse Green, examines potential causes of nuclear escalation in the emerging deterrence environment. She has published articles in International Security, Security Studies, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Foreign Affairs, The Washington Quarterly, The Non-Proliferation Review, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Talmadge’s work has received funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Stanton Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Political Science Association, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Talmadge is a graduate of Harvard (A.B., summa cum laude) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.). Previously, she worked as a research assistant at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a consultant to the Office of Net Assessment at the U.S. Department of Defense, a professor at the George Washington University, and an associate professor of security studies in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.


  • American Political Science Association, member
  • Cornell University Press, series editor, Cornell Series in Security Affairs
  • International Security, associate editor
  • International Studies Association, member
  • Journal of Strategic Studies, editorial board member
  • H-Diplo International Security Studies Forum, editorial board member
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Security Studies Program, research affiliate
  • The Washington Quarterly, editorial board member
  • Areas of Expertise

    • Civil-military relations
    • Defense policy
    • Deterrence and escalation
    • Nuclear strategy
    • U.S. military operations and strategy
  • Current Positions

    • Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Past Positions

    • Associate Professor of Security Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
    • Research Assistant, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    • Analyst, The Long-Term Strategy Project
    • Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, The George Washington University
  • Education

    • A.B., Government, Harvard College
    • Ph.D., Political Science, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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