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Peace, Security, and What’s Next: Tackling Tough Challenges as a Scoville Fellow and Beyond

“Al Qaeda wants a nuclear weapon. Not only is it not hard to imagine them getting one, but here’s how they would do it.”

With that, former CIA officer Valerie Plame began to outline for the audience at the April 2011 Global Zero DC conference how the terrorist organization behind the horrific September 11, 2001 attacks would go about obtaining the most terrifying weapon imaginable: a nuclear one.

Allie with Scoville alumni Charlie Powell and Hannah Haegeland at the
2016 Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting

As this understanding washed over me, I realized I needed to do something.

This moment led me down the path that brought me to where I am today—working as a program associate on the Scientific and Technical Affairs team at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a job that would not have been possible without the opportunities created by the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship.

I started as a Scoville Fellow at NTI in August 2014. I was drawn to NTI by two major projects: the NTI Nuclear Security Index, and the organization’s then-nascent work on cybersecurity of nuclear facilities and nuclear weapons. As a Fellow, I helped lay the groundwork for the launch of the 2016 NTI Nuclear Security Index and worked to build out our cybersecurity-focused work. Once I was hired on as a program associate at the end of my fellowship, I helped shepherd the NTI Index across the finish line (we launched it publicly in January 2016) and worked to stand up three separate cyber-related projects: defining a set of priorities for cybersecurity at nuclear facilities, developing a concept for an international cyber-nuclear incident response team, and convening a working group of former senior military and government officials to develop policy solutions to the cyber threat to nuclear weapons.

    Allie speaking with NTI partners Ferenc Suba and Rob Hoffman

Because I was lucky enough to earn the Scoville Fellowship in Fall 2014, I was able to contribute to the peace and security community at a level I simply could not have otherwise. With the Index, I was able to help build a tool that communicates nuclear security goals, objectives, and commitments in a way that promotes greater progress. With my cyber work, I am on a team working at the forefront of this issue and pushing the conversation forward on a new and important threat in a pragmatic and productive way.

This work has been particularly meaningful because of the strong peace and security community, not just here in DC, but all over the world. My colleagues in this field—whether or not they are part of the broad Scoville alumni network—are deeply passionate about building a safer world. I’m proud to be part of such a dedicated community, and look forward to what we will achieve in the coming years.

Allie presenting NTI’s work on developing priorities for cybersecurity
at nuclear facilities at the 2016 Institute of Nuclear Materials
Management Annual Meeting

Allie Van Dine was a Fall 2014 Scoville Fellow at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, where she now works as a Program Associate.