Acting Assistant Professor, Political Science
Big Data, Social Sciences, Statistics
Noah Smith (Computer Science and Engineering)
Michael McCann (Political Science)
Ph.D. University of Washington (Political Science)
M.Sc. London School of Economics and Political Science (Development Studies)
B.A. University of Colorado, summa cum laude (Political Science)
My research uses a range of qualitative and quantitative methodological approaches to evaluate questions of political violence, radicalization, and civil resistance. During my Ph.D., I produced research that evaluated factors likely to increase civilian support for militancy, delved into patterns of alliance formation and infighting, and interrogated state violence against civilian populations. I am currently expanding on that study of government violence and civilian radicalization in my postdoc. My research has recently appeared in the Journal of Peace Research and has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the United States Air Force.
The project I’m focusing on during my postdoc asks: what factors delimit terrorist attacks from other violent incidents? We develop an original news corpus of U.S. mass shooting events to examine the factors most commonly associated with terrorist-designated incidents. We conduct a statistical analysis to identify the factors that shape whether a mass shooter’s attack is designated as terrorism. Next, we verify and contextualize this by qualitatively examining media coverage of the sixteen mass shootings designated as terrorism (Global Terrorism Database). Third, we use unsupervised learning to discover the archetypal portrayals media ascribe to mass-shooter perpetrators. This multi-method analysis demonstrates that perpetrators with certain racialized demographic characteristics (based on their race, religion, or immigrant status) are more likely than white offenders to be designated as terrorists. In addition, we find that media sources disproportionately frame white perpetrators sympathetically while ascribing racialized perpetrators more nefarious, villainous characteristics.
Practically, I split my time between the Political Science Department, Noah Smith’s “Ark” and the eScience Institute, aiming to both advance the research projects described above as well as become proficient with text-as-data methods, machine learning and generally dealing with big data.