Margaret E. Kosal

Associate Professor

Member Of:
  • School of International Affairs
  • Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy
Office Location:
Habersham 303
Related Links:


Margaret E. Kosal’s research explores the relationships among technology, strategy, and governance. Her research focuses on two, often intersecting, areas:  reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and understanding the role of emerging technologies for security. 

Her work aims to understand and explain the role of technology and technological diffusion for national security at strategic and operational levels. In the changing post-Cold War environment, the most advanced military power no longer guarantees national or international security in a globalized world in which an increasing number of nation-states and non-state actors have access to new and potentially devastating dual-use capabilities. 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. She is interested in both the scholarly, theoretical level discourse and in the development of new strategic approaches and executable policy options to enable US dominance and to limit the proliferation of unconventional weapons.

On the question of understanding the impact of emerging technology on national and international security her research considers what role will nanotechnology, cognitive science, biotechnology, and converging sciences have on states, non-state actors, balance of power, deterrence postures, security doctrines, nonproliferation regimes, and programmatic choices. Through examination of these real applications on the science (benign and defensive) and potential (notional) offensive uses of nanotechnology, she seeks to develop a model to probe the security implications of this emerging technology. The goal of the research is not to predict new specific technologies but to develop a robust analytical framework for assessing the impact of new technology on national and international security and identifying policy measures to prevent or slow proliferation of new technology - the next generation “WMD” - for malfeasant intentions.

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 international security. She is also Director of the Sam Nunn Security Fellows Program and Co-Director of the Program on Emerging Technology within the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy (CISTP). 

Kosal was recently appointed Adjunct Scholar to the Modern War Institute at the US Military Academy/West Point. From 2012-2013, she as a senior advisor to the Chief of Staff of the US Army as part of his inaugural Strategic Studies Group (SSG). Before joining the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, she was Science and Technology Advisor within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Kosal also served as the first liaison to the Biological and Chemical Defense Directorate at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). She has been recognized for her leadership across the U.S. federal government, specifically for efforts to coordinate across the DoD as part of the interagency Nonproliferation and Arms Control Technology Working Group, reporting to the National Security Council (NSC), and as member of the interagency federal group charged with leading the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). Kosal was nominated to and led the U.S. involvement in the NATO Nanotechnology for Defense Working Group.

Her awards include the 2015 CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, 2014 Georgia Tech Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, 2012 Ivan Allen Jr Legacy Award, 2010 INTAGO Faculty Award, CETL Class of 1969 Teaching Scholar, the OSD Award for Excellence, 2007 UIUC Alumni Association Recent Alumni Award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Defense Policy Fellow, and the Society of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines Dissertation Research Award. Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the scholarly journals Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, the Journal of Strategic Security, the Journal of Defense Management, and Global Security: Health Science and Policy.

  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • B.S., Chemistry, University of Southern California
Awards and
  • Senior Adjunct Scholar to the Modern War Institute at the U.S. Military Grand Challenges Faculty Fellow, AY2015-2016 & AY 2016-2017
  • 2015-2016 CETL Class of 1969 Teaching Scholar
  • 2015 CETL/BP Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award
  • Gold Star Award in Recognition of the Highest Level of Accomplishment in Research, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts
  • Dean Griffith Teaching Recognition – “Thank a Teacher” Award
  • 2014 Georgia Tech Junior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award
  • Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy Faculty Award, 2012
  • INTAGO Faculty of the Year, 2010
  • Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Excellence, 2007
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Recent Alumni Award, 2007
  • President’s Volunteer Service Award, 2007
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Fellowship, 2005-2007
  • American Chemical Society’s Chemical and Engineering News Top 2002 Supramolecular Chemistry research paper
Areas of
  • Biotechnology
  • Emerging Technology
  • Military
  • Nanotechnology
  • National Security
  • Nonproliferation
  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Terrorism
  • US Foreign & Defense Policy


Research Fields:
  • Biological and Chemical Nonproliferation and Counterterrorism
  • Cybersecurity
  • Emerging Technology and Security
  • Global Nuclear Security
  • Information Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Regional Security Challenges
  • Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Wicked Problems
  • Asia (East)
  • Asia (North) / Eurasia
  • Asia (South)
  • Middle East
  • United States
  • Weapons and Security
  • Armed Conflict
  • Bioethics, Bioscience, Biotechnology
  • Conflicts
  • Diffusion of Technology
  • East-Asian Studies
  • Emerging Technologies - Innovation
  • Espionage
  • Foreign Policy
  • Governance
  • Human/Machine Interaction
  • Innovation
  • National Security
  • National Strategy
  • Non-Traditional Security Challenges
  • Perspectives on technology
  • Science and Engineering Workforces
  • Science and Technology
  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Terrorism
  • Wicked Problems


  • INTA-2040: Sci,Tech & Int'l Affairs
  • INTA-2042: Intro-Global WMD Issues
  • INTA-2698: Research Assistantship
  • INTA-3102: Problem of Proliferation
  • INTA-3103: Challenge of Terrorism
  • INTA-3111: U.S. Defense Policy
  • INTA-4007: Intell & Int'l Security
  • INTA-4050: Int'l Affair&Tech Policy
  • INTA-4500: INTA Pro-Seminar
  • INTA-6111: US Foreign Secur Strat
  • INTA-8000: Sci,Tech&Int'l Affairs I
  • INTA-8001: Sci,Tech&Intl Affairs II

Recent Publications

Journal Articles

All Publications


  • Nanotechnology for chemical and biological defense
    Date: December 2009
    The pursuit of the minutely small - nanotechnology - is thriving in academia, in the private sector, and in global state science and technology programs. This work aims to better enable an informed national debate and to affect international dialogue on the role and impact of nanotechnology and emerging science on national defense and homeland security. Combining original research with the findings of an interdisciplinary, defense-oriented workshop, the book explores the current realities and potential for transformational breakthroughs in nanotechnology-based chemical and biological countermeasures, as well as identifies research directions in basic and applied science. Security implications, both for traditional nonproliferation regimes and for misuse by non-state actors are also considered. This ambitious effort serves manifold objectives, including the following: . To give policymakers a strategic roadmap to provide a basis for research direction decisions; . To provide an overview of the current and future challenges, both for military operations and for homeland security applications; . To provide a survey of potential future proliferation and malfeasant co-option of emerging technologies;. To discuss organizational structure and management of chemical and biological defense-related research and nanotechnology-related research at the federal level. To present means to foster revolutionary technology domestically and highlight international needs for future nanotechnology research, cooperation, and security globally.Throughout, the emphasis is on revolutionary rather than evolutionary science and technology. This work intentionally straddles between technical disciplines and social sciences making it truly interdisciplinary. Ideas and work from across the experimental and theoretical physical and life sciences and engineering are included and integrated with insights from the social sciences. © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009 All rights reserved.

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  • Nanotechnology for Chemical and Biological Defense

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