Gary Ackerman’s research focuses on understanding how terrorists and other adversaries make tactical, operational and strategic decisions, particularly with regard to innovating in their use of weapons and tactics. Much of his work in this area is centered on the motivations and capabilities for non-state actors to acquire and use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.
Dr. Ackerman, who grew up in South Africa, joined the University in the Spring of 2018. In addition to his faculty position at Albany, Dr. Ackerman is the Founding Director of the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), to which he remains a Senior Advisor. Previous positions have included Research Director and Special Projects Director at START and before that the Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Research Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California.
Dr. Ackerman has headed more than ten large government-sponsored research projects in the past five years dealing with various aspects of counterterrorism policy and operations. He is the co-editor of Jihadists and Weapons of Mass Destruction (CRC Press, 2009), the editor of a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Security titled Designing Danger: Complex Engineering by Violent Non-State Actors, Volume 9, Issue 1 (Spring 2016) and has authored over seventy publications relating to various aspects of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Dr. Ackerman is an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization in the United Kingdom, as well as an Associate at the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute and the Project for Future Human Flourishing. Dr. Ackerman was a member of the WMD Expert Advisory Group of the Information Sharing Environment initiative, Office of the Director for National Intelligence (2007-2008) and has testified on terrorist motivations for using nuclear weapons before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security in April 2008.
Dr. Ackerman received his M.A. in International Relations (Strategic Studies) from Yale University and his Bachelor’s (Law, Mathematics, International Relations) and Honors (International Relations) degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He completed his Ph.D. in War Studies at King’s College London, which dealt with the impact of emerging technologies on terrorist decisions relating to weapons adoption.
CEHC Courses Taught
CEHC 310 Research Seminar in EHC
CEHC 391 Research Internship in EHC
CEHC 410 Capstone Project in EHC
Terrorism; Threat Assessment; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Threats; Innovation; Adversary Behavior Modeling; Red-Teaming; Emerging Technologies; Extremist Ideologies.