2018-19 Sam Nunn Security Fellows and Director

2018-2019 SNSP Pre-doctoral Fellows


Alex Akins

Ph.D. Student

Electrical and Computer Engineering


Mr. Alex Akins is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, where he also earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering. His research focuses on interpreting the results of ground-based and satellite-based microwave remote sensing observations of Venus through laboratory simulations of lower atmospheric conditions and their microwave and millimeter-wavelength properties. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Alex hopes to gain a better understanding of how space-based reconnaissance platforms enable informed international relations policy and of the challenges faced by future generations of orbital vehicles.

Karim Farhat

Ph.D. Student

Public Policy



Mr. Karim Farhat is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech. He earned an M.A. in Media Studies from Ohio University. Karim’s research focuses on the institutional and standards environment evolving around the Internet of Things. He is currently investigating how global data policies affect data sharing arrangements around the industrial Internet of Things space. Karim was active in the Internet Society chapter of his native Lebanon, particularly through his involvement with the Internet governance and start-up arenas. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Karim hopes to explore the intersection of policy and the evolving institutional landscape around cyber-attribution.

Azell Francis

Ph.D. Student

International Affairs



Ms. Azell Francis is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Azell graduated Magna Cum Laude, earning a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, with minors in International Relations and Management, and a Master of Science in Applied Engineering from Georgia Southern University. In her current role as a GRA, she reports to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for the University System of Georgia and oversees the student government associations in each of Georgia’s 28 public colleges and universities. Her research interests are in the area of energy and international development, specifically focusing on energy resilience and optimizing the energy mix for Latin American and Caribbean states. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Azell is interested in developing an understanding of how emergent energy technologies and the increasing speed of development affect security.

Linda Nhon

Ph.D. Student

Chemistry and Biochemistry


Ms. Linda Nhon is a 5th year PhD student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech. She graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on the design, synthesis, and integration of organic light harvesting chromophores applied towards solar fuel cells, specifically dye sensitized photo electrosynthesis cells (DSPEC). Since 2016, she has been an active member of the Energy Frontier Research Center and collaborated with researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and UT-San Antonio in developing systems for tandem DSPECs. She is passionate about promoting renewable energy and learning about energy security. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Linda hopes to expand her scope of knowledge on energy security and the pivotal impact renewable energy technologies will have on the global economic, social, and political platforms and learn how to better leverage this knowledge to examine how public policies reflect such influences.

Wesley Meredith

Ph.D. Student

International Affairs



Captain Wesley Meredith is a 1st year Ph.D. student in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and an M.S. in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to GT, Wes led a 50-member integrated team comprised of military, civilian, and contractor personnel in evaluating the space flight worthiness of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propulsion system and certifying them for Department of Defense launches. He also worked as the chief of Command Business Operations for the Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA, where he directly supported the acquisitions, personnel, and operations for the 5,200-member center. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Wes hopes to further his research in economic development in Africa specifically how foreign aid impacts nations and comparing Chinese aid to Africa with Western aid to find a sustainable model that is most beneficial for African nations.

Gerald B. Popko

M.S. Student

Electrical and Computer Engineering



Captain Gerald Popko is a 2nd year graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech and an active duty officer in the U.S. Army. He is a Distinguished Military Graduate from the Virginia Military Institute with his B.S. in Physics and minors in Astronomy and Mathematics. He has served over 8 years in the Army as a field artillery officer and later as a military intelligence officer. He has deployed to Afghanistan and operationally served in West Africa. He now serves in the U.S. Army’s Function Area 52 – Nuclear and Counterproliferation. His academic research focuses on signal multiplexing of light detection and ranging (lidar) technology for use in dense sensor environments. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, he hopes to investigate future technological tools and threats in counterproliferation.


Paritosh Ramanan

Ph.D. Student

Industrial and Systems Engineering


Mr. Paritosh Ramanan is a 4th year Ph.D student in Computational Science and Engineering at the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. He earned a B.S. in Information Systems from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, Goa, India in 2013 and a M.S. in Computer Science from Georgia State University in 2015. His research deals with asynchronous and decentralized approaches towards solving large scale power system planning problems which lead to faster solution times and improved robustness to cyber attacks and outages. Paritosh has interned at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories’ Centre for Computing Research in Albuquerque, New Mexico working on asynchronous solvers. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Paritosh hopes to acquire insight into how advancements in computation driven power systems research influence energy policy for an efficient, safe and secure power grid of the future.

Heather Regnault

Ph.D. Student

International Affairs



Ms. Heather Regnault is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. She earned a B.S. and Master of Accountancy from the University of Alabama. She recently worked at the Atlantic Council in the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Scowcroft Center for Security and Strategy. Prior to Georgia Tech, she worked as the Project Manager for a childhood post-traumatic stress disorder project in the Psychiatry Department at Stanford University while taking post-baccalaureate coursework in psychology and science. Previously, she also worked as an international auditor for a global consulting firm, while travelling to their offices in Europe, South America and Asia. Prior to that, Heather worked for PriceWaterhouse Coopers on a USAID Mass Privatization Project in Kiev, Ukraine where she lived for two years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Heather’s focus in the program at Georgia Tech is national security, with a minor in cybersecurity, and her research focus is the intersection of political, informational, cyber and kinetic warfare with an area focus of Russia and Eastern Europe, which she hopes to further pursue as a Sam Nunn Fellow.

Stefano Terlizzi

Ph.D. Student

Nuclear and Radiological Engineering


Mr. Stefano Terlizzi is a 4th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Nuclear and Radiological Engineering, pursuing a double minor in mathematics and international affairs. He earned his B.S. in Energy Engineering in 2013 and M.S. in Energy and Nuclear Engineering in 2015 from the Polytechnic University of Turin. His research focuses on the development of Monte-Carlo based numerical methods for neutron transport calculations and the analysis of innovative nuclear reactors design concepts. Passionate about energy, he has been involved in the Energy Club at Georgia Tech and actively collaborates with the popular-science Italian magazine Close-up Engineering. As a Sam Nunn Fellow, Stefano wants to develop a deeper understanding of the connections between international security and cutting-edge technology developments.

2018-2019 SNSP Mid-Career Fellows


Allison J. Mercer

Senior Research Scientist

Georgia Tech Research Institute


Ms. Allison Mercer is a Senior Research Scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the applied research arm of Georgia Tech. At GTRI, Allison works to advance DoD capabilities with a focus on cross-disciplinary team building and emerging, disruptive technologies. In addition to her research roles, she serves as the deputy director for the Defense Systems Technical Area Tasks (DSTAT).

Allison’s foundational expertise is in astrophysics and observational radio astronomy, where her research leveraged large multi-configuration interferometer images of thermal radio emission to categorize and classify astronomical objects. Her research has examined the complexity of manufacturing environments for radio frequency (RF) propagation and created a benchmark for RFID system analysis. Allison is also the co-founder and former director of Georgia Tech Starter, the pilot crowdfunding program for the Georgia Institute of Technology. Allison is a senior member of IEEE.  As the current Region 3 (Southeastern US) coordinator of IEEE Women in Engineering, Allison supports the WIE mission to recruit and retain top talent in STEM fields through outreach, career development, mentorship, and support. She is also a managing partner of a small business that manufactures electronics products for tethered unmanned aerial systems.



Margaret E. Kosal, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

International Affairs


Working at the intersection of science and security, Prof. Kosal’s research explores the relationships among technology, strategy, and governance. Her work aims to understand and explain the role of technology and technological diffusion for national security at strategic and operational levels. The long-term goals of her work are to understand the underlying drivers of technological innovation and how technology affects national security and modern warfare.

Formally trained as an experimental scientist, Kosal earned a doctoral degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) working on biomimetic and nano-structured materials. She is also the co-founder of a sensor company, where she led research on biological, chemical, and explosive detection and spearheaded efforts toward the real-world applications of the technology. During AY 2016-2017, she served as a Senior Adjunct Scholar to the Modern War Institute at West Point. Kosal previously has served as a Senior Advisor to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, as Science and Technology Advisor within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), and as an Associate to the National Intelligence Council (NIC). Kosal is the author of Nanotechnology for Chemical and Biological Defense (Springer Academic Publishers, 2009), which explores scenarios and strategies regarding the benefits and potential proliferation threats of nanotechnology and other emerging sciences for national security, and the Editor of the recently published volume, Technology and the Intelligence Community: Challenges and Advances for the 21st Century, which examines the role of technology in gathering, assimilating and utilizing intelligence information as part of the complex fabric of organizational structures, systemic undercurrents, and the role of leaders in key positions of decision making. She is the recipient of multiple awards including the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence and most recently honored as Georgia Power Professor of Excellence.  In 2017, she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Cambridge University Press journal, Politics and the Life Sciences.