Welcome! I am a PhD candidate in Political Science and a Research Associate at the Center on the Politics of Development at the University of California, Berkeley. My research lies at the intersection of elite political behavior, violence, and the political economy of development, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. More broadly, I research local responses to violence, climate volatility, and governance challenges in developing countries. I have conducted field work in India, Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria and have consulted on projects with USAID, DAI, and Mercy Corps. I employ experimental, quasi-experimental, and qualitative methods in my research.
In my dissertation and first book project, The Ties that Bind or Break: Local Leaders, Dispute Resolution, and Violence in Africa, I examine two inter-related questions. First, what are the incentives and constraints that influence local leader behavior in promoting conflict resolution? Second, how does this relate to the variation in violence across communities? To that end, I investigate the influence of local leaders on mitigating or exacerbating violence by examining their key roles as arbiters of local disputes. Local leaders, such as traditional chiefs, religious leaders, or youth leaders, wield significant influence over dispute resolution. They are often the first point of contact when disputes or disagreements break out. Nevertheless, the role of traditional authorities in dispute resolution has largely gone unexamined in the growing literature on chiefs in the region, and even less attention has been paid to how non-traditional leaders, such as youth or opinion leaders, navigate intergroup conflict. My research reveals that alternative leaders, who often derive their authority and legitimacy from distinct sources, face different incentives that can affect the way they shape the course of violence.
Prior to graduate school, I worked for Innovations for Poverty Action in Uganda and Kenya for over three years managing studies on micro-savings, health and governance, and technology diffusion. I also was a Research Manager at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. I hold an M.A. in Political Science from Leiden University and a B.A. in Political Science from Wake Forest University.