My research interests lie at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics. Broadly, I am a conflict scholar. More specifically, my expertise resides in the areas of foreign policy and decision-making, nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation, and how external inducements can compel leaders to reverse on a range of issues from nuclear weapons to human rights abuses.


Current Research:

Pressing Pause on Nuclear Proliferation: Conditions of Nuclear Reversal, Under review.

Nuclear weapons hold a strong allure for many leaders. Yet, proliferating is a costly endeavor. Leaders deciding to proliferate must balance the preferences of their domestic audience against the significant resources required in a system opposing proliferation. What makes some leaders capable of acquiring nuclear weapons and others not? Under what conditions does a leader reverse their nuclear weapons program? What influence does the international community have over this process? I use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to answer these questions. Using an original dataset that examines all countries over the time period 1946 - 2013, I find that, on average, positive inducements have a stronger effect on prompting nuclear reversal than negative inducements. This finding is particularly true for personalistic, and to a less extent, civilian dictators. To supplement these findings, I utilize a most-similar systems case design to compare the nuclear development paths of Iraq and Pakistan, where I am able to hold several background factors constant in order to isolate variation in the dependent variable. These findings have several implications for both understanding nuclear proliferation and for policy-makers. They indicate that carrots may be stronger than sticks in inducing nuclear reversal by offering a more palatable story for leaders to sell to their constituents than if they were to capitulate to negative international pressure. They also give indication to the strength of stick necessary to induce reversal.

Plausible Proliferators: Institutional Incentives for Going Nuclear, Under review.

Nuclear weapons hold a strong allure for many leaders. Yet, proliferating is a costly endeavor. Leaders deciding to proliferate must balance preferences of their domestic audience against significant resources required in an international system opposing proliferation. Why do leaders begin nuclear weapons programs? How do audiences affect this decision? I use event history and logistic regression models to examine these questions. I add to nuclear proliferation research by extending data for 177 countries over the years 1939 – 2013. Findings indicate that personalistic and military regime types begin nuclear weapons programs at a higher rate than democracies but that all non-democracies are less likely to actually acquire nuclear weapons. Further, leaders are more likely to begin programs when they face internal conflict, indicating that diversionary war theory may extend to nuclear proliferation.

Strength in Arms? How Nuclear Weapons Influence Regime Stability, Revising for submission. 

Recently, much work has been done to explain how domestic factors affect the nuclear development process. Our knowledge of how domestic institutions influence the propensity for seeking and the success of acquiring nuclear weapons has greatly expanded. However, there is a gap in our understanding for the inverse of this relationship: how does the nuclear development process affect regime stability? Does beginning a nuclear weapons program increase regime stability or is increased stability only achieved when nuclear weapons are acquired? Is the effect universal or does it differ according to regime type? Utilizing an original dataset covering all states over 1946 – 2008, I examine the effect of the nuclear development process on regime volatility through zero-inflated Poisson models that capture the number of changes in the effective head of government in any given year. This is an advantageous testing strategy, allowing me to model the influence of the nuclear development process on regime stability while controlling for those states that are not potential proliferators. Understanding this relationship advances our knowledge of how nuclear decisions influence domestic environments, and thus informs those with the goal of devising viable strategies for preventing nuclear proliferation.

Post-tenure fate and nuclear reversal: What happens to leaders who reverse their nuclear weapons programs? Revising for Submission

Possessing nuclear weapons (or having status as a nuclear weapons state) holds a strong allure for many leaders, symbolizing modernity in the international community and affecting national identity. With the understanding that any leader who seeks nuclear weapons has put considerable resources towards the endeavor, it is imperative to consider what happens to a leader who fails to acquire them. What happens to leaders who begin nuclear programs, but fail to acquire nuclear weapons? In order to examine the fate of leaders who begin programs but are unsuccessful in actually acquiring weapons, I transform country-level data on indicators of nuclear proliferation to create a leader-level dataset for 37 states with the capability to proliferate for the years 1946 - 2013. Utilizing these data, I empirically test how audience costs affect the fate of leaders through selection models. Heckman Probit models are an advantageous testing strategy, directly connecting the empirical analysis to my theoretical model by allowing me to model post-tenure fate as conditional on reversing weapons programs, thus providing evidence for leaders who suffer negative consequences for reversing nuclear weapons programs and those who do not. I find that, on average, leaders who capitulate to negative inducements from the international community, particularly personalistic and party dictators, are more likely to suffer negative post-tenure fates than leaders who accept positive inducements. This finding adds to the literature on the efficacy of positive and negative inducements in IR literature and offers an explanation for why positive inducements may be more effective for certain types of non-democracies.