Benjamin L. Schmitt is a Non-resident Senior Fellow with the Democratic Resilience program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA).
He is a Senior Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he holds a joint academic appointment between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy. At Penn, Dr. Schmitt focuses on the project development and field deployment of the Simons Observatory – a new set of experimental cosmology telescopes and energy support infrastructure under construction at a high-altitude site in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile. In his joint role at Penn, Dr. Schmitt also pursues research and teaching related to European energy security, Transatlantic national security issues, and modern sanctions and export controls policy regimes.
Before moving to Penn in 2023, Benjamin was a Research Associate and Project Development Scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. At Harvard, Dr. Schmitt supported the technical design, project management, and deployment of novel instrumentation and infrastructure that will comprise next-generation experimental cosmology telescopes aimed at imaging the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation from the South Pole. For this work, Dr. Schmitt traveled to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica in early 2020 and is a recipient of the U.S. Antarctica Service Medal. Dr. Schmitt remains an Affiliate of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and is also an Associate of the Harvard-Ukrainian Research Institute.
Dr. Schmitt is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the co-founder of the Duke Space Diplomacy Lab, where he is also a fellow of the Duke University “Rethinking Diplomacy” program. Dr. Schmitt is also a Senior Fellow for Democratic Resilience at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), where he focuses on Transatlantic energy and national security analysis, as well as emerging space security challenges to the Transatlantic community.
Previously, Dr. Schmitt served as European Energy Security Advisor at the U.S. Department of State where he advanced diplomatic engagement vital to the energy and national security interests of the Transatlantic community, with a focus on supporting the resilience of NATO’s Eastern Flank and Ukraine in the face of Russian malign energy activities. While at the State Department, Schmitt also served as a IEEE Department of State Science and Technology Policy fellow.
Benjamin has been an invited lecturer on European national security issues, advanced energy technologies, and science and technology policy, including with the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Princeton University, the Stanford CISAC European Security Initiative, the University of Pennsylvania, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and National Defense University. He has delivered dozens of academic talks and lectures on experimental cosmology and physics at conferences around the globe.
Benjamin has also been called to testify as an expert witness on Transatlantic energy and national security issues before the U.S. Senate and House Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe in U.S. Congress, the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine. Dr. Schmitt received a personal sanctions designation from the Russian Federation in June 2022.
In addition to co-authoring an array of peer-reviewed scientific publications on experimental physics topics, Dr. Schmitt also publishes Transatlantic national security analysis, including with Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, Newsweek, The Hill, Atlantic Council, Harvard International Review, Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, Jamestown Foundation, and the Center for European Policy Analysis.
Dr. Schmitt regularly provides expert transatlantic security policy commentary for print and radio media, including with the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, NPR’s Marketplace, BBC World Service, Slate, Vox, Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Beast, Voice of America, Germany’s Deutsche Welle, Bild Zeitung and Handelsblatt, and Ukraine’s Kyiv Post. He also provides regular television commentary on foreign policy and energy security issues with a variety of international outlets, including with Germany's Deutsche Welle, Polish and Lithuanian public television, and Voice of America, and regularly appears on podcasts focused on these issues.
Dr. Schmitt is a past recipient of the Amicus Poloniae Award, a recognition by the Government of the Republic of Poland for outstanding efforts to promote the development of cooperation between the Republic of Poland and the United States of America. Dr. Schmitt has also been honored as “Ukraine’s Friend of the Week” by Kyiv Post and has received both Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of State.
Before entering government, Dr. Schmitt served as a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow while pursuing doctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation research focused on the development of next-generation millimeter-wavelength imaging technologies for the temperature and polarization mapping of the CMB from the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile.
For this work, Dr. Schmitt received both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in experimental physics from the University of Pennsylvania. Schmitt has also previously served as a U.S. Fulbright Research Fellow to the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany. Dr. Schmitt also holds both a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy, and a B.A. in both Mathematics and Modern German Languages and Cultures from the University of Rochester.
Benjamin is an Eastman School of Music trained classical vocalist with multiple leading operatic roles and solo concert performances on his resume. In recent years, he has performed the national anthems of both the U.S. and many European nations at European embassy national days in Washington. A proud native of Rochester, New York, Benjamin is a member of the United States Golf Association.
He resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.