I am a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. My research is focused on the topic of political accountability, and in particular understanding both what factors impact the ability of citizens to hold politicians accountable, and also how politicians attempt to undermine mechanisms of accountability.
In my efforts to understand the determinants of citizen accountability, I have studied the importance of both revenue dependency and social networks. In my work on Somaliland, for example, I have documented how dependency on taxation created a critical mechanism of accountability. Similarly, an effort to explain why ethnically fragmented communities experience worse development outcomes, my work in Zambia shows that ethnically fragmented communities have more fragmented social networks, potentially impeding their ability to organize to hold politicians accountable. In my work in Uganda, I have shown that social networks can help explain variation in electoral turnout, a critical prerequisite to electoral accountability. And in ongoing work in Venezuela, I am exploring the role of social networks in facilitating protest mobilization.
In my efforts to better understand how politicians seek to pervert electoral accountability, I have also studied the ways in which politicians manipulate aspects of election administration to influence the composition of the electorate, undermining accountability. In particular, my work has improved our ability to measure gerrymandering, and improved our understanding of how aspects of election administration, like polling place placement, impact voter behavior and are used for partisan purposes.
Finally, I am also passionate about ensuring the integrity of social science research, and making computational tools accessible to social scientists to empower them to advance our understanding of the world. To that end, I have compiled a number of tutorials which are available on this site (see links in top menu), and have developed a social scientists’ guide to the world of Python and given talks on new tools like the Julia Language for researchers.