Raven Witherspoon is a pre-doctoral fellow in the Program on Science and Global Security. Raven was a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University, Beijing, receiving a master’s degree in global affairs in 2022, and studying Mandarin Chinese as a Blakemore-Freeman Fellow. She holds an undergraduate degree in physics with minors in mathematics, political science, and international social justice studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she was a research assistant in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Raven was a nonproliferation and national security intern at Brookhaven National Laboratory and health physics intern at Surry Nuclear Power Station. She has been a Carnegie-China Young Ambassador and research intern in Beijing and an African-American China Leadership Fellow at the American Mandarin Society, a program to foster more representation of African-Americans in U.S.-China relations. She has served as a Legislative Aide for a Delegate in Virginia’s General Assembly, and as a Student Organizing Fellow and State Coordinating Committee Member of the Poor People’s Campaign.

Research Interests

Raven studies the radiological risks and health impacts of nuclear accidents on public health and safety for local communities, with a focus on sites in the United States. This includes using publicly available potential source term data, atmospheric particle transport software, and current and archived weather data to explore radiological consequences of accidents to assess the potential impacts. She also explores the reconstruction of past accidents to better understand episodes of environmental contamination at former US nuclear facilities and the role of environmental and safety standards and practices.

She also is interested in the history and experience of Cold War and post-Cold-War nuclear risk reduction and confidence-building measures and the opportunities to adapt and expand these measures to US-China nuclear strategic stability and current US-China relations more broadly.


Manit D. Shah, Braden Goddard, Cody Lloyd, Raven Witherspoon, and Taylor Britt, Investigating Material Attractiveness for an Innovative Metallic Fuel Design, Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Design, 357, February 2020.

Cody Lloyd, Braden Goddard, and Raven Witherspoon, The Effects of U-232 on Enrichment and Material Attractiveness over Time, Journal of Nuclear Engineering and Design, 352, October 2019.


Modeling Radiological Risks Associated with Fires at Plutonium Pit Production Plants, Princeton School on Science and Global Security, October 12–17, 2023.

Adapting Sino-US Nuclear Confidence-Building Measures: Cold War Case Studies and Chinese Perspectives. The Carter Center’s Seventh Annual Young Scholars Forum on U.S.-China Relations. September, 2022.

U.S.-China Educational Exchange: Past, Present, Future, Panel Participant. Drake University's U.S.-China Symposium. November, 2022.