My name is Marisol Maddox. I am a research contractor at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Polar Institute in Washington, DC, and I am pursuing a Master’s degree in International Security at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. My research and work are focused on the security implications of an opening Arctic, including the evolution of US strategy in the region, polar governance and geopolitics, climate change risk mitigation, and opportunities for enhanced international collaboration on shared security concerns.

I grew up on Long Island in New York, and received my Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Ecosystems from Binghamton University in 2009. I spent several years living in Montana, including a formative season working at Glacier National Park. This was my first significant exposure to glaciers, the cryosphere, and very palpable climate change.

In 2014 I earned a Permaculture Design Certificate from the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, which exposed me to a useful, deliberate framework for goal articulation and strategy development. This design framework is structured to meet the needs of the human population in a way that is environmentally regenerative, and importantly recognizes the inextricably intertwined interests of human and environmental health. 

I will be spending most of August 2019 in the Arctic with US Coast Guard on the polar security cutter, Healy. This trip is running concurrently with an independent research project I am conducting for graduate school, which studies the implications of accelerating climate change in the Arctic on US security strategy, and how climate change challenges conventional ways of thinking about security and strategy. Gaining in-theatre, operational experience will greatly complement my exposure to policy and strategy, so I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity.

Ambassador David Balton and I are currently co-developing an October 2019 workshop with the Arctic Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs aimed at combatting Arctic marine plastic pollution.This workshop will support the Icelandic Chairmanship’s plastic pollution initiatives and help to identify potential policy solutions in the lead up to a larger symposium on the topic, to be held in Reykjavik in April 2020.

I have been supporting efforts to promote implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement to combat IUU fishing.

Another area of continued and growing interest is in researching China’s interests and expanding presence in the polar regions, particularly the Polar Silk Road extension of the Belt and Road Initiative. I co-authored an article on that topic with Wilson Center Senior Fellow, Sherri Goodman, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security).

I am helping with the planning of an Arctic radioactive material scenario response tabletop exercise for Arctic Futures 2050 this September.

I am currently assisting in the development of an October 1st event at Wilson Center, which will report on the findings of the just-launched IPCC report on the cryosphere and oceans.

Recently I provided support to Wilson Center in hosting the 8th Symposium on Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, which was a fantastic, jam-packed, two-day event with remarkable speakers.

I also recently finished a project on the potential role of Marine Protected Areas in protecting global biodiversity and supporting Sustainable Development Goal 14. There was a public event on the topic at Wilson Center, as well as a private roundtable meant to facilitate the discussion of some of the challenges that have come up during the BBNJ negotiations at the United Nations.

I have been providing support in negotiations around strengthening Arctic Ocean governance, including a recent trip to Moscow to discuss that very topic at the Russian International Affairs Council.

You can follow my journey on the icebreaker on my website:, and on social media:

Twitter: @Marisol_Maddox

Instagram: @marisolmaddoxofficial


Email: mmaddox1(at)gmail(dot)com

Recent publications:

Goodman, Sherri and Marisol Maddox. “China’s Growing Arctic Presence.” China- US Focus. November 19, 2018.

Maddox, Marisol. “Anticipatory Intelligence: Climate Change in the National Intelligence Strategy.” New Security Beat. January 29, 2019.

Feel free to be in touch!