Melanie W. Sisson is a fellow in the Foreign Policy program’s Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology where she researches the use of the armed forces in international politics, U.S. national security strategy, and military applications of emerging technologies. Sisson’s current work focuses on U.S. Department of Defense integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities into warfighting and enterprise operations. She also serves on the advisory council of the North Rhine-Westphalian Academy for International Affairs based in Bonn, Germany, and as a consultant to STR, a national security AI firm based in Boston.

Sisson previously was vice president of analysis at Govini, an early-stage national security AI/ML technology company, and senior fellow and director of the Stimson Center Defense Strategy and Planning program. At Stimson, Sisson partnered with the Stanley Center and U.N. Office of Disarmament Affairs to address the implications for international security of military applications of AI, and published “Military Coercion and US Foreign Policy: The Use of Force Short of War” (Routledge, 2020). A former senior national security project associate with the RAND Corporation, manager of program evaluation for a non-profit mental health organization, and member of the U.S. intelligence community, Sisson earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a master’s from the Columbia University School of International Affairs. She is a consultant to the U.S. Department of Defense, lectures regularly with universities nationwide, and is published in national media outlets and academic journals.

North Rhine-Westphalian Academy for International Affairs, member, advisory council
STR, consultant

  • Areas of Expertise

    • Artificial intelligence
    • Deterrence theory
    • International security
    • U.S. defense strategy
    • Women in defense
  • Past Positions

    • Vice President of Analysis, Govini
    • Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Strategy and Planning Program, Stimson Center
  • Education

    • Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2013
    • M.I.A., Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, 2003
    • B.A., Tufts University, 1999
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