Patrick Roberts

Photo of Patrick Roberts
Political Scientist
Washington Office

Education

Ph.D. in government, University of Virginia; M.A. in political science, Claremont Graduate University; B.A. in politics, University of Dallas

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email media@rand.org.

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Overview

Patrick S. Roberts is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, with a focus on public management and the policy process. He has substantive expertise in homeland security, intelligence and national security, disaster riskand emergency management. His work helps organizations to improve decisionmaking through collaborative and evidence-based processes, and to navigate risk under conditions of uncertainty.

Roberts is the author of Disasters and the American State: How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Public Prepare for the Unexpected (Cambridge, 2013). He has published in a variety of scholarly and popular journals. His research has been funded by: the National Science Foundation; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the United States Naval Laboratories; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Social Science Research Council. He serves on the editorial board of Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy. 

Roberts is an associate professor at Virginia Tech. He served as a foreign policy advisor in the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, funded by a Council on Foreign Relations Stanton International Affairs Fellowship. He has also been the Ghaemian Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Heidelberg Center for American Studies in Germany. 

He holds a Ph.D. in government from the University of Virginia. He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow, one at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and another at the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University.

Previous Positions

Associate Professor, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech, Arlington, VA; Associate Chair and Program Director for Center for Public Administration and Policy Northern Virginia Programs, Virginia Tech; Senior Foreign Policy Advisor, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, State Department, Washington, DC, (Council on Foreign Relations Stanton International Affairs Fellow in Nuclear Security); Visiting Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ; Ghaemian Scholar in Residence, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany; Postdoctoral Fellow, Program on Constitutional Government, Department of Government, Harvard University; Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University; Reporter and editor, Associated Press, Albany, New York

Recent Projects

  • Smart and Connected Communities—Caution: Heavy Load Ahead
  • Building Urban Resilience: Flood and Climate Change Preparedness in U.S and Korean Cities
  • Seasonal Climate Signals: Developing A Community of Practice in Emergency Management of Droughts and Floods
  • Emergency Management in Rural America: Decision-Makers’ Use of Climate Science in Flood Planning and Management

Selected Publications

Patrick S. Roberts, Disasters and the American State: How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and the Public Prepare for the Unexpected, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Patrick S. Roberts "Homeland Security Law and Policy in A Changing Environment," in Tom Karako and Melanie Marlowe, National Security Law and Policy: A Reader, Center for Strategic and International Studies (forthcoming)

Patrick S. Roberts, "Natural hazards governance in democratic states with developed economies," Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science, (http://dx.), 2019

Kris Wernstedt, Patrick S. Roberts, Joseph Arvai, and Kelly Redmond, "How Emergency Managers (Mis?)Interpret Forecasts," Disasters , 43(1), 2019

Patrick S. Roberts and Kris Wernstedt, "Herbert Simon’s Forgotten Legacy for Improving Decision Processes," International Public Management Journal, 2019

Patrick S. Roberts and Robert P. Saldin, "Why Presidents Sometimes Do Not Use Intelligence Information," Political Science Quarterly, 131(4), 2017

Misra, Shalini, Patrick Roberts, and Matthew Rhodes, "Information Overload, Stress, and Emergency Managerial Thinking," International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 2020

Languages

Spanish

Commentary

  • Pope Francis gestures as he speaks during the weekly general audience at Vatican, February 26, 2020, photo by Remo Casilli/Reuters

    Catholic Church and Tech Companies Join to Call for Transparency in AI

    The Catholic Church joined with technology companies in February to release the “Rome Call for AI Ethics,” which it hopes will lend meaning if not governance frameworks for the use of artificial intelligence. Making sure that “everyone can benefit” from AI by making its discoveries widely available will be important. This is perhaps where the church can be most effective.

    Mar 31, 2020 United Press International

  • Voters wait in line to cast their ballot in the Democratic primary at a polling station in Houston, Texas, March 3, 2020, photo by Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

    A Coronavirus Election? Look to the Bottom of the Ticket

    As the coronavirus spreads in communities, it will be mayors, county judges, and school superintendents—not federal officials—who make the tough calls about whether to declare a state of emergency or shutter public schools and other institutions.

    Mar 9, 2020 The Washington Post

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and members of the NATO, U.S., and Afghanistan delegations take a group photo at the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration Announcement at the Dilkusha Mansion Garden, Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia/U.S. Army Photo

    Book Review: 'The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime' by Oriana Skylar Mastro

    Why do warring parties wait so long to start peace negotiations? How can we get to that stage more quickly and definitively? Oriana Skylar Mastro explores the tension between the imperative to fight and the imperative to negotiate in her book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime.

    Mar 2, 2020 War on the Rocks

  • A local resident works repairing a house roof a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, near Barceloneta, Puerto Rico, September 18, 2018, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    What Can FEMA Learn from the Historic 2017 Hurricane and Wildfire Seasons?

    When a hurricane comes ashore or a wildfire ignites, most of a community's vulnerability to disaster is already set. Emergency managers including FEMA, states, and localities could do much more to identify statewide risks and build community resilience before an event makes headlines.

    Feb 3, 2020 Georgetown Journal of International Affairs

  • Circuit board with chip with image of missile, photo by guirong hao/Getty Images

    AI for Peace

    The United States should apply lessons from the 70-year history of governing nuclear technology by building a framework for governing AI military technology. An AI for Peace program should articulate the dangers of this new technology, principles to manage the dangers, and a structure to shape the incentives for other states.

    Dec 13, 2019 War on the Rocks

Publications