My research falls into two main areas: understanding the influence of geography on actor behavior before, during, and after civil conflict, and developing new tools to improve the study of institutions (both formal and informal) in peace and conflict. One strand of research in this first area explores how the territories that ethnic groups inhabit shape rebel group formation and condition their relationship with the state. My interest in geography also informs projects on active conflicts including the targeting of UN peacekeepers by insurgent groups, civilian victimization after rebel territorial conquest, and communal violence in fragile settings.
My other main research agenda uses advanced methods to develop new measures of institutions. One project uses Bayesian item response theory to measure the strength of peace agreements as a latent variable and free researchers from post-treatment bias caused by using the duration of agreements as a proxy for their strength. In others, I apply unsupervised learning techniques to over a billion observations of product-level international trade data to measure economic interdependence and illicit economic exchange.
In a new avenue of research, I leverage social media data to explore participation in extremist movements across multiple contexts, gaining insight into the early stages of radicalization.