I am a political scientist whose work lies at the intersection of the subfields of international relations and comparative politics. My scholarship examines the range of contentious politics from primarily nonviolent protest movements to civil wars, terrorism, and genocide. I am especially interested in the sociological underpinnings of conflicts as well as their transnational dimensions. I focus on questions such as when and how do social groups mobilize in campaigns of political resistance? how do such movements choose between violent and nonviolent strategies? and how do social structures, state institutions, and transnational forces shape patterns of conflict? In answering these questions, I utilize a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. This has involved conducting field research in Nepal as well as working with colleagues to create an original dataset of the ethnic composition of military forces in the Middle East and Africa.
My book manuscript, forthcoming in 2021 from Cambridge University Press, is titled Between Mao and Gandhi: the Social Roots of Civil Resistance. The book 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 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 Smith Richardson Foundation, Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation, the Eisenhower Institute, and the Bradley Foundation. I have provided commentary for 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 an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science 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.