Saskia Popescu

Policy Researcher


Ph.D. in biodefense, George Mason University; MA in international security studies, University of Arizona; MPH in epidemiology, University of Arizona


Saskia Popescu is a policy researcher at RAND, dedicated to strengthening global health security and biopreparedness. She is an epidemiologist and infection preventionist who has worked in outbreak investigation and frontline healthcare response. Her research focuses on the intersection of science, security, and policy, working to enhance biosecurity and resilience by identifying and addressing key vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and private industry. Popescu's scope of expertise ranges from disease transmission dynamics to biosurveillance, with much of her work focused on biodefense strategy and the barriers to implementation and bolstering biopreparedness, including the political economy of healthcare preparedness, and development of DURC/GoF policies. Prior to joining RAND, Popescu was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks, where she helped lead projects to address pandemic preparedness, the AI/biosecurity nexus, ecological and biological security risks within spillover research, and open-source information to bolster biodefense and transparency within the Biological Weapons and Toxins Convention. She previously oversaw epidemiological and global health response at Netflix, as well as serving as a WHO consultant on COVID-19 infection prevention, and as a member on several NASEM committees regarding disease surveillance and outbreak response. She holds a Ph.D. in Biodefense from George Mason University, a MA in International Security Studies from the University of Arizona, and a MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Arizona.

Concurrent Non-RAND Positions

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology & Public Health