NukeLab is an undergraduate research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute. We study pressing policy questions in nuclear security, proliferation, and deterrence.



NukeLab, launched at W&M’s Global Research Institute in Fall 2019, is an undergraduate research lab that applies cutting-edge social science theory and methods to pressing policy questions in nuclear security, proliferation, and deterrence. At NukeLab, students work closely with faculty on all aspects of the research process—building theory, collecting and analyzing data, and visualizing and sharing findings with the academic and policy communities.

NukeLab is directed by Jeff Kaplow, Assistant Professor of Government at William & Mary.


Research Projects

Assessing the risk of nuclear proliferation

What countries are most likely to seek nuclear weapons? Under what circumstances? To help answer these questions, we are using advanced data analytics to develop a proliferation risk score—a systematic way to categorize states by the risk that they will develop nuclear weapons under particular circumstances. This project is supported by a PASCC grant from the US Air Force Academy and Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Mapping the nuclear nonproliferation regime

How does membership in the nuclear nonproliferation regime affect the nuclear choices that countries make? Why do countries decide to join or abstain from parts of the regime? We are helping to build a comprehensive dataset of country membership in the nonproliferation regime, with tools to visualize patterns of membership over space and time.

The past and future of nuclear proliferation

Have the drivers of nuclear proliferation changed over time? What will proliferation look like in the future? Using a mix of machine learning techniques and deep qualitative research into cases of nuclear pursuit, we can better understand how the proliferation landscape has shifted and which policy tools are likely to prove most effective in addressing tomorrow’s proliferation challenges.


Student Opportunities

NukeLab recruits W&M students on an ongoing basis. We seek motivated, independent students with an interest in international security or nuclear policy. We particularly encourage applications from students with strong methodological skills; experience in data science, data visualization, or machine learning; an interest in geospatial analysis, or a background in STEM fields relevant to nuclear technology. We have opportunities for both student employment and course credit. 

To express interest in joining NukeLab, please use the contact form below. Professor Kaplow with the subject line “NukeLab application” and tell him why you are interested in joining the lab, what you hope to gain from the experience, and any specific skills or background that would contribute to the lab’s work.

Apply to join NukeLab

William & Mary students may express interest in joining NukeLab by filling out the form below. This form is only for student applications—for general information about NukeLab projects, please contact Professor Kaplow.

Name *