Dr. Samuel Blazek serves as the director of research and development at IST Research, a technology firm based in Northern Virginia that enables large-scale communication with hard-to-reach populations around the world. Samuel develops innovative field data collection capabilities that help identify, track, and solve challenging and urgent global security issues. Recently, these efforts have included novel quantitative approaches to identifying and measuring “hidden” phenomena: the size of an illicit economy, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable migrant populations, or the popularity of an extreme or taboo opinion. He currently coordinates research activities and field operations supporting a number of organizations including the Department of State and the Department of Defense. Samuel’s current projects span five continents and pertain to a diverse range of topics from countering child exploitation and terrorism to modeling the spread and effects of state-sponsored disinformation campaigns.
Throughout his career, Samuel has been driven by the desire to leverage the proliferation of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to ensure greater collective human security. Samuel received his PhD in Information, Risk, and Operations Management from the University of Texas at Austin in 2017 and his B.A. in Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Literature from Dartmouth College in 2009. He previously served at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, a Federally Funded Research & Development Center (FFRDC) supporting the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.