Fiona Cunningham

photo: Fiona Cunningham
Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Areas of Expertise

International security, Chinese foreign policy, cybersecurity, nuclear policy

Fiona Cunningham is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University.

Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology and conflict, with an empirical focus on China. Fiona’s current book project explains how and why states use space, cyber and conventional missile weapons as substitutes for threats to use nuclear weapons for coercion in limited wars. Her research on China’s nuclear strategy has been published in International Security and has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, China Confucius Studies Program and the MIT Center for International Studies.

Fiona received her Ph.D. in 2018 from the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was a member of the Security Studies Program. She was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University from 2018 to 2019 and a Pre-Doctoral Fellow in the Cyber Security Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University from 2017 to 2018. She conducted fieldwork in China from 2015 to 2016 as a joint Ph.D. research fellow at the Renmin University of China in Beijing. Fiona also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and International Relations from the University of New South Wales and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney, both with first-class honors.


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

LL.B. (Hons), University of Sydney

BA (Hons), University of New South Wales


“Assuring Assured Retaliation: China’s Nuclear Posture and U.S.-China Strategic Stability,” International Security, Vol. 40 No. 2 (Fall 2015) (with M. Taylor Fravel)