About Me

Photo by Rod Searcey
Photo by Rod Searcey

I study the politics of authoritarian regimes with a specific focus on elite power struggles, civil-military relations, and grand strategy. My philosophy as a scholar is to select topics based on the widest gap between the under-utilization of available documents and their theoretical and empirical importance, extract broader lessons, and use those lessons to help us to understand three nations of crucial geopolitical importance – Russia, China, and North Korea. My research agenda draws upon comparative politics, international relations, security studies, and history to ask big questions about the long-term political trajectories of these three states. In particular, I am interested in how leaders in those countries create security against threats from within the elite, their own people, and other states.

This academic year I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton-Harvard’s China and the World Program, where I am beginning a project on the intersection between domestic politics, military doctrine, and nuclear weapons in China and the Soviet Union up to and including the 1969 Sino-Soviet nuclear crisis. Previously, I have been a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), a Predoctoral Fellow at George Washington University’s Institute for Security and Conflict Studies, an IREX scholar affiliated with the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, a Fulbright Scholar at Fudan University in Shanghai, and a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. My research has also been supported by the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation, MIT’s Center for International Studies, MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, the Critical Language Scholarship program, and FLAS.  In the fall of 2018, I will begin as an Assistant Professor in Emerging Powers at the School of International Service at American University. 

An interview about my work on the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident can be found here, and an interview about my research in general can be found here.

You can also check out my recent pieces in the Washington Post’s Monkey CageWar on the Rocks and The Diplomat.