Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or record-keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.
SSHRC William E. Taylor Fellowship
Michael Levi concerns himself with the kind of plots that fill movie
theatres—and give security specialists nightmares. Imagine, he proposes,
that a terrorist group wants to build and explode
a nuclear bomb. Exactly how do they go about it? More importantly, how
do we stop them?
The obvious solution is to lock the materials up: they can’t make
a bomb if they don’t have the ingredients. But though he agrees
that locking the barn door is a good policy, Levi, virtually alone in
the academic community, is focusing on the things we can do if the horse
does get out. One example: he is using what we know about illicit drug
deals to model a potential transaction between criminals with stolen material
and terrorists who want to build a bomb.
Levi’s research will form the basis of the PhD he is pursuing at
King’s College London. The degree is in war studies, but he began
his academic career in the natural sciences. An outstanding physics student,
he held an NSERC grant while studying string theory for his master’s
But public policy was where his true interest lay, and he followed Princeton
with a job as director of the Strategic Security Project for the Federation
of American Scientists. He was made a fellow at Washington’s prestigious
Brookings Institution (a position he still holds), and his list of publications
includes refereed articles in Nature and Scientific American,
a regular column in The New Republic Online, commentary in the
Washington Post and Foreign Policy, and, recently, The
Future of Arms Control, a peer-reviewed book he co-authored that
has won praise from such figures as Henry Kissinger and Thomas Schelling.
Clearly, there is an audience for Levi’s groundbreaking thinking,
and in fact government officials have already expressed interest in his
thesis. They recognize the truth in what Levi says: like it
or not, “you have to think about what’s going to happen when
the alarm goes off.”