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Rebecca Slayton

Associate Professor

Rebecca Slayton

Morrill Hall, Room 320

Educational Background

Ph.D., Chemical and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
M.A., Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
B.S., Chemistry, Westmont College


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.” Slayton is also a project lead on research funded by a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Institute.


history of technology; computing; international security; governance; risk; cybersecurity


  • Science and Technology Studies

Graduate Fields

  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Information Science


  • Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies



Selected Articles and Chapters

Aaron Clark-Ginsberg and Rebecca Slayton. 2018. Regulating risks within complex sociotechnical systems: Evidence from critical infrastructure cybersecurity standards. Science & Public Policy.

Slayton, Rebecca, and Aaron Clark-Ginsberg. 2018. Beyond Regulatory Capture: Emerging Expertise in Critical Infrastructure Protection. Regulation & Governance 12(1), 115-130.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2017. “What is the Cyber Offense-Defense Balance? Conceptions, Causes and Assessment.” International Security 41(3): 72-109. 

Slayton, Rebecca. 2016. “Framing Computer Security, 1967-1992.” in Communities of Computing: Computer Science and Society in the ACM, edited by Thomas Misa, 282-323. New York: ACM Press.

Slayton, Rebecca, and Graham Spinardi. 2016. “Radical Innovation in Scaling Up: Boeing’s Dreamliner and the Challenge of Socio-technical Transitions,” Technovation 47: 47-58.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2015. “Measuring Risk: Computer Security Metrics, Automation, and Learning,” IEEE Annals in the History of Computing 37(2): 32-45.

Spinardi, Graham, and Rebecca Slayton. 2015. “Greener Aviation: Take-off (Delayed): Analyzing Environmental Transitions with the Multi-level Perspective.” Science & Technology Studies 28(1): 28-51.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2013. “Efficient, Secure Green: Digital Utopianism and the Challenge of a ‘Smart’ Grid.” Information and Culture 48(4): 448-478.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2012. “From a ‘Dead Albatross’ to Lincoln Labs: Applied Research and the Making of a ‘Normal’ Cold War University.” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 42(4): 255-282.


Public Outreach Articles and Briefs

Slayton, Rebecca. 2018. “Beyond Cyber Threats: the Technopolitics of Vulnerability.” International Security Studies Forum.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2017. “Why Cyber Operations Do Not Always Favor the Offense.” Policy brief at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2017. “The Paradoxical Authority of the Certified Ethical Hacker,” Limn 8.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2016. “Measuring Security: Metrics and the Problem of Cybersecurity Governance.” White paper for Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Slayton, Rebecca. 2014. “The Fallacy of Proven and Adaptable Defenses.” Federation of American Scientists Public Interest Report 67(3).