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About Sophia

Sophia Gaston is a London-based foreign policy expert. Her research focuses on strengthening the resilience and competitiveness of advanced liberal democracies in a turbulent geopolitical era.

Sophia is the Head of Foreign Policy and UK Resilience at the leading Westminster think tank, Policy Exchange. She is also an Expert Associate at the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra, and an Academic Fellow at the European Policy Centre in Brussels.

Sophia is the Founder and Lead of the AUKUS Industry Forum, a dialogue and education hub which brings together British defence, security and technology firms with a stake in the trilateral project, along with senior Government officials, Parliamentarians and academia.

Sophia most recently spent three years as the Director of the British Foreign Policy Group, which under her leadership grew to become a highly respected and influential think tank supporting the advancement of the Global Britain agenda. She has also been a Research Member at the University of Oxford and spent several years as a Visiting Fellow in the Institute of Global Affairs at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Sophia has pioneered quantitative and qualitative research into the evolving social attitudes on foreign policy in the United Kingdom, establishing the gold-standard annual survey on public opinion on international affairs. She has written several highly influential studies into how to bring together domestic and international policy agendas, as a means of supporting public consent for more open, ambitious and connected foreign policy missions. She is also focused on exploring the implications that our allies' complicated domestic social landscapes will pose for the UK's own strategic objectives, including the crucial relationship with the United States. 

Sophia is also an expert in key contemporary national security issues, including the rise of China and Russia's evolving strategic intentions. She has co-authored several landmark research papers on the UK-China relationship with Professor Rana Mitter, and, having previously conducted research in Ukraine, continues to advocate for a strong British and Western role in its defence and reconstruction.


Sophia's previous research has focused on populism, nationalism, and the growth of anti-establishment movements, as well as broader threats to governance in Western nations, including disinformation, trust in institutions and social competition. She led large-scale, innovative social studies into the significance of nostalgia as a contemporary cultural and political force in the United Kingdom, France and Germany, and a six-country study into the activation of 'fear' in Europe's political culture.

Sophia is a regular media commentator for national and global publications and broadcast television, and frequently presents on her research at UK and international conferences. She also advises and trains governments, NGOs, and private sector organisations on public opinion research - consulting on social and political risk environments, as well as research design and methodologies, surveys, and focus groups.

Highlights from her publication history and examples of her recent media writing can be viewed in her Research Archive.

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