About Me

I am a political scientist whose scholarship examines global conflict, human rights, and public policy. I am particularly interested in popular struggles for democracy, equality, and social justice. My research addresses questions such as: when, why, and how do social groups mobilize for political change? What strategies do groups use to achieve their goals? And what policies can activists, governments, and international organizations pursue to reduce physical and structural violence? In answering these questions, I draw upon theories from across the fields of political science, sociology, and conflict resolution. Methodologically, my work utilizes both quantitative and qualitative techniques; I have developed original cross-national datasets and engaged in months-long field research trips to conduct interviews and access foreign archives.

My book, Between Mao and Gandhi: the Social Roots of Civil Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 2021), investigates how challengers to state power come to embrace or reject nonviolent civil resistance as a strategy in pursuit of regime change. I have published articles in the Journal of Peace Research,International Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Global Security Studies, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and Small Wars and Insurgencies. My research has been supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Smith Richardson Foundation, Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation, the Eisenhower Institute, and the Bradley Foundation. I have provided commentary for Fox32 and WGN Chicago, NPR’s “The 21st”, WNIJ radio, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Big Ideas” radio program, and The Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, among other outlets.

Currently, I am a Visiting Scholar at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and an Associate Professor in the School of Public and Global Affairs at Northern Illinois University. I previously held research appointments at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism at the University of Chicago and at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. I received my Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and my B.A. from Middlebury College.

Prior to entering academia, I worked as a foreign and defense policy aide in the U.S. House of Representatives, a legislative assistant in the Vermont State Senate, and a public affairs intern at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar. This background in public policy shapes my commitment to “engaged scholarship” in which academic research and teaching empower policymakers, activists, and citizens to make more informed decisions in pursuit of a more just and peaceful world.

Academic Appointments


University of Denver Korbel School

Visiting Scholar | Sie Cheou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy

Sep 2022 – Present Denver, CO

Northern Illinois University

Associate Professor of Political Science

Aug 2022 – Present DeKalb, IL

Northern Illinois University

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Aug 2016 – Jul 2022 DeKalb, IL

University of Chicago

Postdoctoral Scholar | Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism

Aug 2015 – Jul 2016 Chicago, IL

Harvard Kennedy School

Research Fellow | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Aug 2014 – Jul 2015 Cambridge, MA