Patrick S. Roberts

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Political Scientist
Washington Office


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

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Patrick S. Roberts is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, with a focus on public management and governance processes. He has substantive expertise in homeland security, intelligence and national security, cybersecurity, 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

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)

Misra, Shalini, Matthew Rhodes, and Patrick Roberts, "The Ecology of Emergency Management Work in the Digital Age," Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, 3(5), 2020

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, 22(4), 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, 51, 2020