Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Friday, September 4, 2015

This seminar will feature a presentation by, Dr. Kathleen Vogel on Biotechnology and Bioterrorism: Re-Conceptualizing Bioweapons Threats.

There remain persistent shortcomings in U.S. government and nongovernment assessments of biological weapons threats—shortcomings with important national security implications. U.S. analysts and policymakers continue either to underestimate or to overestimate the bioweapons capabilities of state and non-state actors. What explains this puzzle? This long track record showing a consistent pattern of error regarding bioweapons threats stems from a striking conformity in judgments about biotechnology and its possible uses. Government and nongovernment analysts assert that the increasing ease, pace, and diffusion of biotechnology is creating a growing, elusive, and more technologically advanced set of bioweapons threats. But this conclusion fails to incorporate crucial social factors that can powerfully shape the development, use, and evaluation of biotechnology for weapons purposes. This talk will discuss an alternative framework for assessing bioweapons threats.

Dr. Kathleen Vogel is an Associate Professor at North Carolina (NC) State University in the Department of Political Science. She also serves as Director of the Science, Technology, and Society Program. Vogel holds a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Princeton University. Prior to joining the NC State faculty, Vogel was an associate professor at Cornell University with a joint appointment in the Department of Science and Technology Studies and in the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies. Previously, she has been appointed as a William C. Foster Fellow in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction in the Bureau of Nonproliferation. Vogel has also spent time as a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Center, Sandia National Laboratories and the Center for Nonprolif­eration Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her research focuses on studying the social and technical dimensions of bioweapons threats and the production of knowledge in intelligence assessments on WMD issues.

Biotechnology and Bioterrorism: Re-Conceptualizing Bioweapons Threats

The Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) sponsored this seminar entitled “Biotechnology and Bioterrorism: Re-Conceptualizing Bioweapons Threats” on Sept. 4, 2015, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The seminar was presented by Kathleen Vogel, associate professor at North Carolina State University.