Call for Presentations: 2023 Annual Conference

The UK PONI Annual Conference has established itself as the premier UK forum for developing the next generation of nuclear expertise in academia, industry, government and the military. By bringing together emerging and established experts from across the nuclear field, this conference series promotes an informed and diverse dialogue on the most pertinent nuclear issues of the day.

We are now accepting proposals for presentations at the 2023 Annual Conference, which will be held in person in London on 12 September. The event will consist of a series of short presentations from emerging experts in the field, keynote speeches and networking opportunities. This conference will focus on the research topics listed below.

For recorded presentations and keynotes from the 2022 Annual Conference, please see here. Testimonials from past participants can be viewed here.

Why Attend?

Selected presenters will have the opportunity to:

  • Work with RUSI experts to refine their ideas and research.
  • Present their work to a broad audience and receive feedback on their research from a diverse field of nuclear experts.
  • Build connections with academics, policymakers and industry representatives across the nuclear enterprise.
  • Write a short commentary (800 words) for the UK PONI website after the conference.


You don’t need to be an established expert (or experienced presenter) to present at a UK PONI conference – in fact, we’d prefer that you don’t consider yourself the ‘finished article’, but instead use the process of working with the UK PONI team to refine your presentation and to develop your knowledge and skills.

Past presenters have included a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds, from experienced industrial facility managers explaining their work to a broader community, to international relations undergraduates giving their first public presentation. They don’t fit any kind of mould, but rather are united by their interest in their subject, their enthusiasm to learn new things and connect with new people, and their commitment to putting out the best presentation and paper that they can. If you think you fit this description, we would love to hear from you.

Application Guidelines and Selection Process

Please email the completed 2023 Annual Conference proposal Word document to by Monday 15 May, 12pm (BST), with ‘2023 Annual Conference Proposal’ as the email subject.

UK PONI encourages presentation proposals from undergraduate and graduate students, emerging technical specialists and early career professionals, including those with military experience. UK PONI is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment, and thus we welcome applications from women, persons with disabilities, and underrepresented minorities.

Presentations will be chosen by the selection panel, which consists of the UK PONI team and the UK PONI Board of Advisors, using a blind process. Additional invited presentations may also be included in the Annual Conference at the discretion of the UK PONI team.

Research Topics for the 2023 UK PONI Annual Conference

The conference presentations will focus on – but will not be limited to – the topics listed in the research agenda below. We encourage proposals that address the set topics from diverse points of view, including both technical and policy perspectives. We do encourage innovative and creative concepts, but not speculation without basis – so proposals which evidence good consideration of methodology are particularly encouraged. 

Shifting strategic trends are leading to rapid developments in global alliances and partnerships, with a range of nuclear policy implications. Finland and Sweden are in the final stages of joining NATO, the Euro-Atlantic military alliance, prompted by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 under the shadow of nuclear threats. Influential voices in South Korea have called for the country to develop nuclear weapons amid concerns that US security guarantees might not be sufficient in the face of nuclear threats from North Korea and China. In September 2021, the UK, Australia, and the US revealed a significant trilateral security initiative known as AUKUS, which includes a provision to develop Australia’s conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capacity.

Submissions for this topic could examine the role of nuclear deterrence in alliances; considerations for NATO’s nuclear posture; and AUKUS, including submarine-industrial and non-proliferation aspects. More broadly, we also welcome submissions that seek to enhance our understanding of nuclear-related strategic concepts (such as strategic stability, tailored deterrence or ‘limited’ nuclear use), or the impact of emerging and disruptive technologies (including hypersonics, quantum and AI) on deterrence.

The UK’s 2021 Integrated Review (IR) and the 2023 Integrated Review Refresh, like prior strategic documents, contain statements of policy on the UK approach to nuclear issues. Many fundamentals of the UK approach remain unchanged, but some aspects are new, as the UK seeks to adapt to a changing global nuclear landscape. Submissions for this topic could address any aspect of the UK’s approach to deterrence, arms control and disarmament, including lessons for UK nuclear policy from the Ukraine war; deterrence in a multipolar world; the UK’s role in developing new concepts of strategic stability and arms control; the future of UK disarmament policy; and the relationship between the UK and the US in the context of this year’s 60th anniversary of the Polaris Sales Agreement.

Nuclear power is back in favour, as economies seek to decarbonise and boost their energy independence. The economic disruption caused by the war in Ukraine has amplified calls for an accelerated energy transition. New types of nuclear reactors are advancing and may require new or updated safeguards; cyber security regulations are slowly adapting to the growing cyber threat to nuclear facilities; and additive manufacturing (3D printing) may lower technical barriers to proliferation. Submissions under this topic could include any aspect of the nexus between nuclear energy on the one hand and nuclear security and non-proliferation on the other.

Why is China building a larger and more diversified nuclear force? What military rationales may have contributed to this development? What are the security implications and prospects for future arms control cooperation with China in the context of its nuclear expansion? What consequences will China’s pursuit of military modernisation have for non-proliferation norms? Given the central strategic role of the Indo-Pacific, it is increasingly important to understand the motives underpinning Beijing’s evolving nuclear stance as well as the implications of these changes. Submissions under this topic could address any aspect of China’s policy on nuclear weapons.

Innovative Proposals
We also welcome submissions for alternative types of sessions, including interactive panel discussions and other innovative formats up to an hour in length (such as visual/audio documentaries, poem-reading, plays or musicals – feel free to be creative!). This opportunity should encourage prospective participants to come up with suggestions that the PONI team has not considered so far and/or that the current format of the conference does not support.

Unlike the paper proposals, these submissions are not reviewed anonymously and should include a separate page with the names, affiliations and roles of people who will be leading or presenting in the session, along with additional information about the ‘vision’ behind the proposal. Successful submissions will typically be assigned a one-hour session within the conference programme. Feel free to email us to discuss your idea before submission; we are happy to help you shape your proposal.

Travel Bursaries

Some travel bursaries (covering return train tickets or economy flights) are available for UK and EU-based participants; please indicate if you are applying for a bursary in your application form.