Jessica West is a CIGI senior fellow and a senior researcher at Project Ploughshares, a Canadian peace and security research institute, where she focuses on technology, security and governance in outer space. She has held this position since 2015 and previously worked there on space security and nuclear disarmament issues as a project officer (2006–2009).
As part of her work at Project Ploughshares, Jessica served for seven years as the program manager of the international research consortia responsible for the Space Security Index project, and as managing editor for the 2007–2009 and 2016–2019 publications. She interacts regularly with key UN bodies tasked with space security and sustainability issues, including the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, the Conference on Disarmament, the UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. Her work has been presented at various international conferences including the Secure World Foundation Summit for Space Sustainability, the Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference, the Observer Research Foundation’s Kaplana Chawla Annual Space Policy Dialogue and the International Astronautical Congress.
Recently, Jessica concluded a significant research effort to identify and map existing values, principles and norms in outer space and seek opportunities for advancing international security-related norms, with funding from the Canadian Department of National Defence’s MINDS program (Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security). She currently has a second research grant to extend this work with a study of lessons learned from other domains of arms control and their applicability to outer space.
Jessica is also a research fellow at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo, a member of the North American and Arctic Defense Research Network, and a member of the Canadian Pugwash Group.
She completed her Ph.D. in global governance and international security studies at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, with a dissertation titled “Defence in Depth: An Anatomy of Containment from Quarantine to Resilience.” She holds an M.A. in international affairs from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University and an honours B.A. in political science from Wilfrid Laurier University.