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Prof Kathleen Margaret Vogel

Picture of Prof Kathleen Margaret Vogel

Program Director


Kathleen Vogel is an associate professor at NC State 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.


Professor Kathleen Vogel studies the production of knowledge on technical security policy issues.  Her book with The Johns Hopkins University Press, Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?  A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats, examines the social context and processes of how U.S. governmental and non-governmental analysts produce knowledge about contemporary biological weapons threats.  Drawing on theoretical perspectives from the science and technology studies (S&TS) field, the book examines a series of historical and contemporary case studies involving state and non-state actors. These case studies reveal important taken-for-granted assumptions and blind spots in how knowledge about biological weapons has been produced. These shortcomings have lead to failures in how U.S. bioweapons assessments have been conducted, interpreted, and used for national security policymaking. Involving close engagement with scientific practice, policymaking, and S&TS scholarship, the book proposes a new way of analyzing bio weapons-related technologies and broader WMD threats using a synthesis of technical and social science methodologies.  


Vogel has five ongoing research projects and interests:

(1) Understanding Weapons Production

This project is an ongoing collaboration with Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley at George Mason University.  We are studying the social dimensions of technical work in U.S. and Soviet bioweapons development (e.g., hands-on know-how important in weapons work; integration of interdisciplinary work teams).  We are studying the influences of organizational, management, and political styles on weapons development.  We have studied mechanisms of technology transfer (internal and external) to these programs.  And, we have conducted comparative analyses of the successes and failures in weapons achievements in these two programs.  This work has involved in-depth research on the U.S. and Soviet bioweapons program, which has included interviews of over 40 former bioweapons scientists from the United States, Russia, and Kazakhstan.  This work has also involved site visits to former U.S. and Soviet bioweapons facilities.  This work has been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

(2) Understanding Security Threats from Emerging Technologies

This work has involved assessment of the security threat from open scientific publications in the life sciences, in particular synthetic genomics.   Through conducting interviews with life scientists in the laboratory and watching laboratory practices, I have sought to examine the tacit knowledge, communities of practice, and pedagogy that constitute scientific work.  I have investigated the conditions (social, environmental, material) conditions necessary for successful replication of scientific experiments.  I have developed an analytic model from this research that highlights important local and social dimensions that underpin scientific work.  These results are used to inform contemporary dual-use, biosecurity debates, and discussions.  Some of this work has been funded by The Ploughshares Fund.

(3) Understanding Weapons Assessment: Technical Assessments by Intelligence Practitioners

This work involves a study of historical and contemporary cases (drawing on declassified information and unclassified interviews) of how intelligence practitioners have tried to assess emerging bioweapons threats.  The historical cases include Project BACHUS, Project Jefferson, and the CIA's assesment of the Iraqi bioweapons threat before the 2003 war.  For contemporary cases, I have examined how intelligence practitioners tried to assess the 2011-2012 H5N1 bird flu controversy.  Some of this work has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

(4) Social Practices Shaping Intelligence Analysis and Academic Studies of Intelligence

This work aims to broadly understand what are the various social practices and work environments that shape how intelligence practitioners conduct analyses.  This work has brought together U.S. and UK academics and intelligence practitioners in workshops and focus groups to discuss these issues in unclassified forums.  In addition, this work aims to understand how to design and implement successful multi-disciplinary teams of intelligence practitioners to solve important intelligence problems.  Some of this work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences.

(5) Moral Economies of Weapons Work

This project, The Anthrax Diaries, explores the complicated ethical issues underpinning biological weapons development, through the personal histories of former U.S. and Soviet bioweapons scientists.  This project builds on five years of research to create an understanding of social dimensions of weapons development in the U.S. and Soviet bioweapons programs. The main deliverables from this project will be a book manuscript, The Anthrax Diaries, which will discuss the personal, ethical, and psychological lives of these weapons scientists, a documentary film, and an on-line multimedia forum.  This project is in collaboration with Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley (George Mason University), Slava Paperno (Cornell University), and Slawomir Grunberg (LogTV).  Some of this work has been funded by the Federation of American Scientists and Cornell University.

Funded Research

  • National Science Foundation, "Researching Secrecy & Intelligence Knowledge: New Methods & Analytic Networks."
  • National Science Foundation, “Improving Intelligence: A New Dialogue Between S&TS Scholars and Intelligence Analysts.” 
  • Senior Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.
  • Federation of American Scientists, Virtual Biosecurity Center, “Making Anthrax,” film documentary on U.S. and Soviet bioweapons programs.
  • Carnegie Corporation of New York, “Living Legacy: An Oral History of U.S. and Soviet Bioweaponeers and Its Implications for Understanding Past, Present, and Future Biosecurity Threats.” 
  • Mellon Humanities Project, Interface of Humanities and Sciences/Technology Cluster, “Biosecurity Threats:  Risks, Assessments, and U.S. Preparedness.” 
  • Ploughshares Fund grant, “Assessing the Bioterrorism Threat from Dual-use Biotechnology.” 
  • Ed A. Hewett Fellowship, National Council for Eurasian and East European Research (NCEEER).
  • Carnegie Scholar, Carnegie Corporation of New York, for project, “A Plague Upon the Nations:  Proliferation Concerns from the Former Soviet Bioweapons Complex.”
  • Grant (with Judith Reppy, Cornell) from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the workshop, “Agro-Terrorism: What is the Threat?” 
  • United States Institute of Peace grant for project, “A Plague Upon the Nations:  Proliferation Concerns from the Former Soviet Bioweapons Complex.” 


Vogel, Kathleen M., “Revolution versus evolution?: Understanding scientific and technological diffusion in synthetic biology and their implications for biosecurity policies,” BioSocieties (October 2014): 1-28.

Vogel, Kathleen M. and Christine M. Knight, “Analytic Outreach for Intelligence: Insights from a Workshop on Emerging Biotechnology Threats,” Intelligence and National Security, (May 2014): 1-19.

Vogel, Kathleen M., "Expert Knowledge in Intelligence Assessments: Bird Flu and Bioterrorism," International Security, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Winter 2013/2014): 39-71. _in_intelligence_assessments.html?breadcrumb=%2Fexoerts%2F3032%2Fkathleen _m_vogel

Vogel, Kathleen M., "The Need for Greater Multidisciplinary, Sociotechnical Analysis: The Bioweapons Case," Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 57, No. 3 (September 2013).

Vogel, Kathleen M., "Necessary Interventions: Expertise and Experiments in Bioweapons Intelligence Assessments," Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (October 2013): 61-88.

Vogel, Kathleen M., "Intelligent assessment: Putting emerging biotechnology threats in context," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 69, No. 1 (January 2013): 43-52.

Vogel, Kathleen M., Phantom Menace or Looming Danger?: A New Framework for Assessing Bioweapons Threats (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). 

Vogel, Kathleen M., Book Review: "Assessing the Legacy of The Soviet Bioweapons Program," The Nonproliferation Review (November 2012): 473-480.

Vogel, Kathleen M., Op-Ed – Improving Intelligence on Emerging Bioweapons Threats: New Engagements Needed Between Intelligence and Academia, Virtual Biosecurity Center (January 16, 2013), available at:

Vogel, Kathleen M., Op-Ed – Making Anthrax, Virtual Biosecurity Center (November 8, 2011),

"The Social Context Shaping Bioweapons (Non)Proliferation," (with Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley). In Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science.  Vol. 8, No. 1 (March 2010), pp. 9-24.

"Biodefense: Considering the Socio-Technical Dimension," in Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in Question, Andrew Lakoff and Stephen J. Collier (eds.).  New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

"Iraqi Winnebagos of Death: Imagined and Realized Futures of U.S. Bioweapons Threat Assessments," Science and Public Policy, Vol. 35, No. 8 (October 2008) 561-573.

"Framing Biosecurity: An Alternative to the Biotech Revolution Model?"  Science and Public Policy, Vol. 35, No. 1 (February 2008): 45-54.

"Bioweapons Proliferation: Where Science Studies and Public Policy Collide," Social Studies of Science, Vol. 36, No. 5 (2006): 659-690. 


  • Ph.D. in Chemistry from Princeton University