Rebecca Slayton

Associate Professor


Slayton’s research and teaching examine the relationships between and among risk, governance, and expertise, with a focus on international security and cooperation since World War II. Her first book, Arguments that Count: Physics, Computing, and Missile Defense, 1949-2012 (MIT Press, 2013), shows how the rise of a new field of expertise in computing reshaped public policies and perceptions about the risks of missile defense in the United States. In 2015, Arguments that Count won the Computer History Museum Prize.

Slayton’s second book project, Shadowing Cybersecurity, examines the emergence of cybersecurity expertise through the interplay of innovation and repair. Slayton is also working on a third project which examines tensions intrinsic to the creation of a “smart” electrical power grid—i.e. a more sustainable, reliable, and secure grid. Both of these current projects are supported by a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER award, “Enacting Cybersecurity Expertise.” In 2019, Slayton was also a recipient of the United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, for her NSF CAREER project.

Research Focus

History of computing; peace and conflict studies; history of science and technology; risk; expertise


Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies

Einaudi Center for International Studies


Academic Articles and Chapters


Public Outreach Articles and Briefs

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