I am a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France and a research affiliate at MIT GOV/LAB. I received my Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018. At MIT, I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, a member of the Political Methodology Lab and MIT GOV/LAB. I graduated summa cum laude from Georgetown University with a degree in Government and African Studies in 2010. Before starting graduate school, I worked as the program manager at Columbia University’s Earth Institute on a country-wide development program in Nigeria.
My research centers on topics in comparative politics and the political economy of development. I focus on the micro-foundations of political behavior to gain leverage on macro-political questions. How do autocrats survive? How can citizen-state relations be improved and government accountability strengthened? Can shared identities mitigate out-group animosity? Adopting a multi-method approach, I use lab-in-the-field and online experiments, surveys, and in-depth field research to examine these questions in sub-Saharan Africa and the US. My current book project reexamines the role of elections in authoritarian endurance and explains why citizens vote in elections with foregone conclusions in Tanzania and Uganda. Moving beyond conventional paradigms, my theory describes how a social norm of voting and accompanying social sanctions from peers contribute to high turnout in semi-authoritarian elections. In other ongoing projects, I study how national and pan-African identification stimulated through national sports games influence attitudes toward refugees, the relationship between identity, emotions, and fake news consumption, and how researchers can use Facebook as a tool for social science research.
My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, MIT GOV/LAB, and the Summer Institute in Computational Social Science, among others. I was recently awarded the 2019 Multidisciplinary Prize from the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse.