Sankaran is a Research Scholar at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. He works on problems that lie at the intersection of science & technology and international security. While at CISSM, Sankaran will work on two projects. He is currently researching the growing military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and is working on a book project on "measuring military power for strategy and policy formulation." As part of this project, Sankaran will spend two months in Japan and two more in China doing field research. He has been awarded the 2015 Abe Fellowship to support this research project. Sankaran's second project focuses on nuclear postures and strategic stability. He is studying the emerging nuclear deployments and postures of China, India and Pakistan and their interplay. He is also examining the effect of U.S. policies of Asian nuclear stability. In related work, Sankaran also has an active interest in missile defense. He is part of a joint U.S.-Russian National Academies study on missile defense cooperation. He is also involved in researching the Asian missile defense architecture and its effect of U.S.-China strategic stability.
Before joining CISSM, Sankaran was a post-doctoral research associate at the National Security Education Center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was previously a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University and a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at RAND Corporation. Sankaran received his PhD from the Maryland School of Public Policy in 2012, where his work on space security resulted in a dissertation on Debating Space Security: Capabilities and Vulnerabilities. Before coming to the University of Maryland for his Master's in Engineering and Public Policy, Sankaran worked for 3 years with the Indian Missile R & D establishment in the areas of missile astrodynamics and modeling. He was also involved in the development of a ballistic missile defense system architecture. It is during this time that his interest in space weapons and arms control developed.
Sankaran published in International Security, Strategic Studies Quarterly, Arms Control Today, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and other outlets. Sankaran has worked for the Secure World Foundation, developing an interactive database of sensors that are, or could be, used to enhance global space situational awareness. He has also conducted research on the use of ballistic missiles as anti-satellite weapons for the Union of Concerned Scientists and on the technological limits of the military use of space as part of CISSM’s Reconsidering the Rules for Space Security project.