Scott Helfstein

Scott Helfstein

Areas of Expertise

  • Counterterrorism
  • Non-proliferation
  • Countering Threat Finance

Former Director of Research, Combating Terrorism Center, United States Military Academy at West Point

Scott Helfstein manages research production for the Combating Terrorism Center and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Scott’s research focuses on the behavioral sciences, specifically strategic decision-making in complex environments and the role of information in social evolution. Strategy projects focus on the relationship between rational action and psychological motivations in an attempt to better understand decisions made under uncertainty. His work on social evolution focuses on the interplay of ideas, social networks, and learning. It aims to explain how the synergistic effects of these forces impact adaptability, robustness, collective action, and signaling dynamics across social contexts. He applies these concepts to the study of transnational issues such as terrorism, nonproliferation, interstate conflict, financial contagion, and economic interdependence.

Scott’s work has appeared in peer reviewed journals such as Political Science Quarterly, Public Administration Review, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, and The Nonproliferation Review with forthcoming work in Journal of Conflict Resolution. He has also published reports through the Combating Terrorism Center dealing with terrorist violence, propaganda, and ideological trends in Southeast Asia. Scott provides policy advice to the U.S. Department of Defense and Combatant Commands, and his research has been funded by the Institute for National Security Studies and The Office of the Secretary of Defense. He is currently a member of National Defense University’s Program on Combating WMD for Emerging Leaders, and he travels regularly to speak on transnational issues.

Scott completed a Joint Doctorate in Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Michigan in 2008, where he majored in world politics. He also earned a Master’s Degree in War Studies from King’s College, London in 2004. From 1999 to 2002, Scott worked as an investment banker focusing on mergers and acquisitions at Credit Suisse First Boston. Prior to that, he worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in the Banking Supervision and Regulation and Research and Statistics Divisions from 1997 to 1999. Scott also holds an undergraduate degree in finance from The George Washington University.