Research Assistant, Technology and National Security Program (AI Project)

Full Time

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) seeks to hire a Research Assistant to support its Technology and National Security Program. Candidates with a demonstrated interest in policy issues at the nexus of technology and national security are strongly encouraged to apply. The position is a three-year appointment and will support two research projects on AI safety and stability.

Candidates should be self-starters that are comfortable working as part of a small, close-knit team in a fast-paced and fluid work environment. An ability to manage complex administrative tasks with diligent attention to detail is critical. As part of the three-year term and before project work begins, the Research Assistant will engage in six months of online coursework studying AI and machine learning, such as through a Coursera course on machine learning, if necessary to deepen their expertise. Project work will begin after this initial six-month period of coursework. Prior education or work experience in AI and machine learning is preferred but not required.

The employee will be expected to perform a variety of tasks outlined below. The following is an overview of primary responsibilities. Other tasks may be required, and responsibilities will vary over time.


The following is an overview of primary responsibilities. Other tasks may be required, and responsibilities will vary over time.


  • Serve as lead research assistant for two projects on AI safety and stability.
    • A three-year research project on anticipating, preventing, and mitigating catastrophic AI failures, to include accidents and unauthorized use. The goal of this project is to better understand how AI failures may occur and specific steps that can be taken to prevent or mitigate failures, including drawing on lessons from other industries (75 percent of this position’s time).
    • A three-year research project to better understand and shape opportunities for compute governance, including identifying which government policies, private sector actions, and/or technological developments would increase or decrease the controllability of compute in the future (25 percent of this position’s time).
  • Play a key role in program research efforts, including conducting literature reviews and in-depth research, maintaining current knowledge of developments in relevant policy areas both domestically and internationally, assisting with citations, and identifying new areas for further research and analysis.
  • Participate in research engagements with external experts and practitioners, including non-resident adjunct fellows.
  • Travel domestically and internationally for in-person research engagements as needed to support ongoing research efforts.


  • Co-author/author CNAS papers and reports.
  • Publish op-eds, journal articles, or short analyses, such as commentaries, in external outlets.


  • Edit CNAS papers and reports for substance, style, and layout.
  • Manage team publication schedules and deadlines.
  • Coordinate with outside authors.
  • Collaborate with Center staff to develop compelling graphics and data visualizations.
  • Help promote research among target audiences.


  • Generate and manage project budgets in conjunction with Center staff.
  • Engage with donors and sponsors and support Program Director’s engagement.
  • Write interim and final grant reports.


  • Support program efforts to design impactful events that generate fresh thinking on relevant policy areas, including:
    • Formulate event agendas, including themes and speakers.
    • Oversee event logistics, such as venues, catering, invitations, and RSVPs.
    • Execute event communications plans using Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.
    • Coordinate with external speakers and their staffs.
  • Manage event budgets.
  • Manage program contact lists.


  • Schedule meetings and events, including support for the Program Director’s and senior researchers’ scheduling.
  • Create meeting agendas, take notes, and track associated tasks.
  • Arrange business travel and accommodations.
  • Compile expense reports.
  • Maintain program website and project content.


  • Participate in interviews and other personnel processes.
  • Attend internal meetings and represent CNAS at outside events.
  • Mentor colleagues.
  • Assist in networking, messaging, and outreach about CNAS, the Technology and National Security Program, and its products.
  • Attend and staff CNAS events and activities as needed.



  • Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • Demonstrated interest in researching, analyzing, and writing on technology and national security.
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • An ability to work collaboratively in a fast-paced and fluid environment.
  • Willingness to support the Technology and National Security Program through administrative work.
  • Strong writing skills, including good grammar, diligent self-editing, and fact checking.
  • Good judgment, especially regarding the quality of data and competing information sources.
  • Strong multitasking and time management skills, as well as an ability to juggle multiple projects and competing priorities.
  • Willingness to maintain confidentiality.
  • Computer competency including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Slack, and Zoom.
  • Legal right to work in the United States.


  • Science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or technical analytic education and/or work experience.
  • Master’s degree in a relevant area of study (e.g., science, technology, engineering, mathematics, U.S.-China competition, technology policy).
  • Experience researching, analyzing, and writing on science and technology policy.
  • Two to three years of relevant work experience.

About the Technology and National Security Program

The Technology and National Security Program explores the national security challenges associated with foundational and emerging technologies. Technology is an important enabler of military, economic, and political power. Rapid developments in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, digital infrastructure, cybersecurity, networking and social media, and disinformation are profoundly altering the national security landscape. A key focus of the program is bringing together the technology and policy communities to better understand these challenges and together develop solutions.

About CNAS

The Center for a New American Security develops bold, innovative, and bipartisan national security and defense policies that promote and protect American interests and values. Building on the deep expertise and broad experience of its staff and advisors, CNAS engages policymakers, experts, and the public with innovative fact-based research, ideas, and analysis to shape and elevate the national security debate. As an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization, CNAS leads efforts to help inform and prepare the national security leaders of today and tomorrow. CNAS is located in Washington, D.C.

CNAS is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

All CNAS employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have an approved medical or religious reason not to do so. Prospective employees are required to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination as part of the onboarding process or receive advance approval from CNAS for a recognized exception.

CNAS abides by all Federal and District of Columbia employment laws.

To Apply

CNAS is accepting online applications only. Apply online using this link:

A complete application will include a cover letter explaining the candidate’s interest in and qualifications for the position, together with a résumé or CV. Writing samples may be requested.