Research Focus

I focus on issues of corruption, conflict processes, and social movements in Africa. I am fascinated by the ways in which African citizens respond to rampant government corruption, particularly since it takes such a heavy toll on their lives. I look specifically at the ways that corruption drives contentious political action and violence, ranging from social movement activity to terrorism. I also write on the theoretical nature of corruption, and am working on a comparative construction of corruption.

Current Research

  • The intersection of pervasive political corruption and contentious political action
  • The impact of government corruption on grievances, trust, and mobilization
  • State capture in different African contexts
  • Developing a comparative construction/theory of corruption


In seeking to answer empirical questions, I gravitate toward a few main methodological approaches:

  1. Geospatial analysis, which allows me to visualize and model the spatial impact of social incidents on one another, as well as to derive a stronger understanding of how geography drives political outcomes.
  2. Quantitative analysis, including parametric and non-parametric statistical analysis in both frequentist and Bayesian approaches.
  3. Experimental methods, which I find to be useful in deriving and testing initial suppositions about behaviors in response to certain stimuli. I see experiments as a crucial first step in testing whether we are asking the right questions.
  4. Field research and interviews, which provide both exploratory and confirmatory information in the form of thick context and process-tracing.

Research Appointments

  1. Center for Open Data Enterprise (2018 – current)
  2. Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (2015 – 2017)
  3. Uppsala University, One-Sided Violence Project (2015)
  4. University of Maryland w/ Mark Lichbach & Paul Huth (2013 – 2016)