Chelsey Wiley

Research Assistant, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies


Never doubt your abilities and to stick up for yourself.

What do you do?

I am a research assistant in the Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme at RUSI, working on projects related to nuclear stability and supporting the UK Project on Nuclear Issues (UK PONI).

Why did you choose this field?

I chose the field of security and nuclear studies as I truly believe that it is vital to understand the ever-changing nature of international politics and conflict. The key to any successful policy or resolution rests on the analysis of the past as well as the comprehension of various sides of an issue. For this reason I was eager to launch my career in an independent think tank as it gives me the opportunity to assist in the connection of all aspects of the nuclear field from technical to academic to political.

My whole life I have been quite eclectic in my hobbies and interests. It was to no surprise that it followed me into my research. While I have specialised within the political and academic side of things, I have never let that stop me from being multidisciplinary or from looking at all sides of an issue. I am very fortunate to have fostered my interests and skills throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies at Franklin University Switzerland and here at UCL. In fact, my first experience in nuclear studies was as a research assistant to one of my history professors during my BA in International Relations.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Creating a conversation between academia, the technical fields, and politicians has been one of my most rewarding achievements. Informed policy and government comprehension of nuclear issues is best achieved when knowledge from the next generation is involved. Most governments understand that a nuclear war could never be won, and therefore must never be fought. However, not all of them are as aware of the emerging issues, new risks, and implications of new technologies and possibilities in the field. UK PONI attempts to fill this knowledge gap as well as offer a platform for young scholars and professionals to intermix with established experts on contemporary nuclear issues.

Why do you love working in STEM?

While I do not work in STEM, working in an organization that engages with the technical side of nuclear issues has deepened my own understanding and perception of nuclear weapons and policy. Engaging in conversation with those of different backgrounds such as systems engineers is by far one of the most valuable experiences I’ve taken away from my career so far.

Best advice for next generation?

I have been fortunate to work on a team that is fairly diverse, however, that is not always the case in nuclear policy. Just as in STEM, the field can often become heavily male-populated. For myself, this has never stopped me from pursuing what I believe I have a right to pursue nor from seeking a seat at the table. Never doubt your abilities and to stick up for yourself.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

The 5MWe reactor at Yangbyon is a clone of the UK’s Calder Hall reactor.

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