Matthew Bunn is a Professor of Practice at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. His research interests include nuclear theft and terrorism; nuclear proliferation and measures to control it; the future of nuclear energy and its fuel cycle; and policies to promote innovation in energy technologies. He is the faculty lead for the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
Before joining the Kennedy School in January 1997, he served for three years as an adviser to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he played a major role in U.S. policies related to the control and disposition of weapons-usable nuclear materials in the United States and the former Soviet Union, and directed a secret study for President Clinton on security for nuclear materials in Russia. Previously, Bunn was at the National Academy of Sciences, where he directed the two-volume study Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium. He is the winner of the American Physical Society's Joseph A. Burton Forum Award for “outstanding contributions in helping to formulate policies to decrease the risks of theft of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials,” and the Federation of American Scientists' Hans Bethe Award for “science in service to a more secure world,” and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is a member of the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and a consultant to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association, the Steering Committee of the Fissile Materials Working Group, an advisory panel for the Nuclear Challenges program of the MacArthur Foundation, the Strategic Advisory Board of ORNL’s Global Security Directorate, and the Advisory Committee of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance.
He is the author or co-author of more than 25 books and book-length technical reports (most recently Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technologies), and over 150 articles in publications ranging from Science and Nuclear Technology to Foreign Policy and The Washington Post. He appears regularly on television and radio.
Bunn has long focused on turning ideas into action. Career highlights include:
- He directed the National Academy of Sciences studies that formed the basis for U.S. plutonium disposition policy in the 1990s;
- At the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, he played a key role in getting large-scale U.S.-Russian cooperation on security for nuclear weapons and materials underway, including directing the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) study that led to Presidential Decision Directive 41, accelerating U.S. nuclear security programs;
- He suggested and organized the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) gift that became the founding gift of what is now the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Nuclear Security Fund;
- He first proposed what became the Global Threat Reduction Initiative – which accelerated efforts to remove nuclear material from vulnerable locations, so that today, more than half of the countries that once had potential nuclear bomb material on their soil have gotten rid of it;
- He first proposed a four-year effort to secure nuclear material around the world, which leaders from more than 50 countries endorsed at the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, and was endorsed unanimously by a UN Security Council summit in UN Security Council Resolution 1887.
- Working with Iranian former deputy foreign minister Abbas Maleki, he proposed a variety of compromise solutions to the Iranian nuclear crisis; he also analyzed “warm” and “cold” standby options for Iranian centrifuges that were considered by negotiators on all sides.
- He has helped lead the Project on Managing the Atom for over two decades, helping to mentor over 100 research fellows, who have gone on to leading positions in academia, government, and the private sector.
- He co-edited the 2017 book Insider Threats, which is now being widely used in nuclear security training.
Bunn holds a doctorate in technology, management, and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is married to Jennifer Weeks; they have two daughters.