Fabian Villalobos

Fabian Villalobos
Engineer; Professor of Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in materials science, UC Riverside; B.S. in chemical engineering, UC Riverside; AA in liberal arts, San Bernadino Valley College


Fabian E. Villalobos (he/him/his) is an engineer at RAND, and a professor of policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He manages RAND's Engineering and Applied Sciences Speaker Seminar Series. Villalobos has an interest in the intersection of technology, economics, and geopolitics and primarily focuses on issues in the national security and homeland security sectors. His work at RAND has included topics on emerging technologies, logistics, acquisitions, the defense industrial base, and China. Villalobos has a specific interest in vehicle electrification policy, critical minerals supply chains, and their impacts on climate change, trade, and international relations. His recent work has included research on Critical Minerals and Technology Supply Chains, U.S.-China Techological Competition, Technological Risk, Electric Vehicles, Hypersonic Missiles, Fighter Turbine Engines, Submersibles, and Autonomous Systems.

Villalobos has a background in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering with emphasis on aerospace materials, critical materials, energy storage, and renewable energy technologies. He is a co-inventor and co-author of patents. Previously, he worked in industry at startups and established manufacturers alike supporting R&D, product development, quality assurance, business development, and more.

His commentary has been featured in The Hill, Barron's, DefenseNews, New Security Beat, and more. He has been quoted in the New York Times, Factcheck.org, Indopacific Defense Forum, The Wire China, and more. Villalobos has been invited to speak on topics like critical minerals and battery supply chains in several venues.

In his spare time, Villalobos likes to train in Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and read Philosophy.

Selected Publications

Villalobos, Fabian, Jonathan L. Brosmer, Richard Silberglitt, Justin M. Lee, and Aimee E. Curtright, Time for Resilient Critical Material Supply Chain Policies, RAND Corporation (RR-A2102-1), 2022

Wilson, Bradley, Ellen M. Pint, Elizabeth Hastings Roer, Emily Ellinger, Fabian Villalobos, Mark Stalczynski, Jonathan L. Brosmer, Annie Brothers, and Elliott Grant, Characterizing the Uncrewed Systems Industrial Base, RAND Corporation (RR-A1474-1), 2023

Snyder, Don, Kristin F. Lynch, Alexis A. Blanc, Jonathan L. Brosmer, John G. Drew, Kyle D. Haak, Myron Hura, Daniel Ish, Kelly Klima, and Fabian Villalobos, Assessing the Effectiveness of Future Concepts in the U.S. Air Force: Application to Future Logistics Concepts, RAND Corporation (RR-A534-1), 2022

Honors & Awards

  • RAND Spotlight Award


  • Military Technology

    Do Generals Dream of Electric Tanks?

    Members of the House Armed Services Committee have expressed concerns over the electrification of Army combat vehicles. Though such concerns have some merit, there is also a larger issue motivating research and development efforts—the growing demand for energy on the battlefield.

    Aug 8, 2023

    The Hill

  • International Diplomacy

    Understanding America's Technological Tit for Tat with China

    China and the United States appear to be barreling towards a path that risks further ratcheting up the ongoing economic war. More-evolved strategies are needed beyond simple retaliatory spirals, to find peaceful equilibria and ensure technoeconomic competition does not spill over into military conflict.

    Jun 26, 2023

    The Hill

  • Trade Regulation

    Do Car Companies Know Where Their Critical Minerals Come From?

    The initial slate of electric vehicles qualifying for a new federal tax credit was announced in April. Key to eligibility is the source of critical minerals used in their batteries. While the list of acceptable nations of origin is still being worked out, there's an important practical question the IRS should ask: Do carmakers really know where their critical minerals come from?

    Apr 28, 2023


  • Supply Chain Management

    Militaries, Metals, and Mining

    Securing access to supply, increasing global and domestic capacity, and diversifying supply chains for critical minerals should be at the top of the agenda for both nations and private industry. Failure could jeopardize climate mitigation strategies and U.S. military readiness.

    Apr 18, 2023

    New Security Beat

  • Information Operations

    Emerging Domestic Battery Supply Chain Should Be Wary of China's Information Ops

    China has a huge stake in producing lithium-ion batteries, and is not above waging disinformation campaigns against U.S. firms involved in the battery supply chain. Extraction sector companies could work with cybersecurity experts and the U.S. intelligence community to educate their executives and local governments about any foreign disinformation risks.

    Nov 15, 2022

    The Hill

  • Supply Chain Management

    Enhance U.S. Rare Earth Security Through International Cooperation

    Most rare earth elements and materials are sourced from overseas but China dominates extraction and processing. With closer multinational cooperation, the United States and its allies and partners could reduce vulnerabilities due to the dependency on China.

    Nov 3, 2022

    Defense News

  • Security Cooperation

    As U.S. Shifts Arctic Strategy to Counter Russia, Allies Offer Valuable Info

    U.S. strategy is shifting toward a renewed focus on the Arctic region, reflecting increasing Russian military activity there. U.S. forces could benefit from the knowledge and capabilities of partners and allies with extensive Arctic experience.

    Sep 24, 2021

    United Press International