Deborah Lai is a Ph.D. candidate at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and an assistant policy analyst at RAND. Lai received a B.A. from Michigan State University in Chinese and international relations, and her M.Phil. in policy analysis from PRGS. Her work at RAND covers a wide range of topics, including escalation and crisis management, U.S. security cooperation and building partnership capacity efforts, allied defense spending, Chinese and Southeast Asian security policy, and policing practices in the United States. Her dissertation examines potential patterns of escalation in the South China Sea, and how to prevent or manage these conflicts.