About Me

I am a prospective Ph.D. student in Political Science for the 2021-2022 school-year.  I am particularly interested in the origins of pro-social political norms and institutions that prevent political violence, protect minority rights, and promote economic growth.  More recently, I ask how democratic institutions will adapt to the social and economic transformations wrought by advances in artificial intelligence and the digitization of political discourse. 

I am currently a Research Assistant at the Center for Peace and Security Studies (cPASS), a Teaching Assistant in UC San Diego’s Making of the Modern World Department, a Lecturer in the School of Global Policy and Strategy’s Summer Prep Program, and an avid songwriter.  You can access my writing sample here, as well as my CV and GRE scores here.

Languages: Arabic, Spanish, and English

Programming Languages: R, Stata, ArcGIS

B.A. History, UC San Diego, 2016 

B.A. International Studies – Political Science, UC San Diego, 2016 

Master of International Affairs, UC San Diego, 2018

Performing with my band, Stay For The Fireworks, at the 2018 ASCE Battle of the Bands


“Is There an Anglosphere Effect? An Analysis of a Modified Gravity Model of Trade” 2018
Topics in International Trade, Independent Analysis Project
Instructor: Dr. Gordon Hanson

Previous scholarship has shown that shared colonial histories and languages can strengthen economic ties, however, this paper adds nuance to this literature by showing that there is an additional economic effect of a perceived shared ethnocultural heritage within the English-speaking world. Though Kenyans, Britons, Nigerians, Indians, and Australians all speak English, I hypothesized that the racial politics of British colonialism created a stronger perceived cultural connection between “Anglosphere” member countries, and, further, that this would result in closer economic ties. This hypothesis was supported by the results of an analysis of a modified Gravity model of trade, where, specifically, the trade-mitigating role of distance is tempered by Anglosphere membership with statistical significance.

“How can Corruption be Prevented in India’s Midday Meal Scheme?” 2018
Corruption and Development, Independent Analysis Project
Instructor: Dr. Paul Niehaus

India’s Midday Meal Scheme (MDMS) is the largest national school lunch program in the world. Hailed for its cost-effective process of feeding ~120 million schoolchildren annually, the program is credited with a wide variety of improvements to educational outcomes, particularly for girls and India’s poorest students. This paper describes several ways incentives can be shifted so as to encourage communities to keep their school and district administrations accountable and ensure that schools report an accurate number of enrolled students and that children receive the amount of calories and protein allotted to them by law. My policy recommendations are based on evidence from both Brazil and India indicating that 1) integrating electoral accountability into schools’ PTA panels may reduce corruption in the MDMS if 2) Display boards and forums for the public airing of grievances are also included.

“Automation and the Future of Music Composition” 2017
Automation and Work, Independent Analysis Project
Instructor: Dr. Roger Bohn

The effects of automation on much of the economy has been well-researched, but one sector remains understudied. Is it possible that music composers will soon be competing against software-generated music? At first, it may seem unrealistic to assume that such a fundamentally creative task could be automated, but the “rules” of music theory and recent developments in both MIDI and DAW technology have allowed machine learning software to begin to compose music that is certainly not unpleasant. The long-term effects of this phenomenon could be beneficial for visual media production houses that would no longer need to employ film score composers and jingle writers in great numbers. However, It would likely have less of an impact on the average musician who already finds themselves in a highly competitive job market, usually through self-employment.

“Is There a Subnational Resource Curse? An American Case Study” 2017
GIS & Spatial Data Analysis, Independent Analysis Project
Instructor: Dr. Gordon McCord

Is there a subnational, state-level “Resource Curse” in the United States? It may be that the lack of a consensus on the existence of a subnational Resource Curse is because the results of previous inquiries have been contingent upon a state’s level of national political centralization. US states, having much autonomy in their constitutional and institutional design, are decentralized power centers that may be disparately susceptible to the phenomenon of the Resource Curse. Given this decentralization, I hypothesize that a subnational resource exists in the contiguous United States. Using a Geographically Weighted Regression Analysis in ArcGIS, point data from the USGS, and corruption data FiveThirtyEight, I find evidence that a given US state’s increased density of mining and high-value mineral sites is associated with higher corruption ratings as measured by two separate indices. Future research will integrate other high-value natural resources – namely, proven oil reserves – into this analysis.

“Increasing Social Media Engagement with Women and Ethnic Minorities: Statistical Insights from @NASAHistory’s Twitter Data with Stata” 2017
Consultation for NASA’s Office of Communications

As an intern at the NASA Office of Communications, I managed the @NASAHistory Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook profiles. Twitter, fortunately, provides a great deal of data to the user on demographic data with regard to post engagement. The data showed that more than half of our engagement came from males earning over $100,000 annually, usually over 40. I cleaned this .csv data for analysis in Stata to see what posting times would be ideal for reaching more underrepresented groups in our posts. My analysis found that ~7:30AM EST was the best time to post to reach a broader demographic of users.

“Do Seatbelt Laws Save Lives? A Fixed-Effects Regression
Analysis says: ‘maybe not’”
Quantitative Methods III Final Policy Analysis
Instructor: Dr. Craig McIntosh

It seems like common sense to assume that having a law requiring seatbelts to be worn in vehicles would save lives. How true is that? In Stata, I ran a robust fixed effects regression model on the effect of primary seatbelt law upon occupants of vehicles’ traffic mortality and found that the answer to the question “Do seatbelt laws save lives?” is not so clear. After weighting our dependent variable by vehicle miles driven & population while controlling for 10 independent variables, we do not find a statistically significant relationship upon the negative coefficient associated with a state having a primary seatbelt law. This research underlines the importance of seatbelt law enforcement in preventing traffic fatalities.

“Do Recessions Hurt Autocrats? Perhaps Not, if They
Have Propaganda On Their Side. A Statistical Analysis
of Afrobarometer 2016” 2017

Quantitative Methods II Independent Analysis Project
Instructor: Dr. Jennifer Burney

For the average respondent living under autocracy when answering 2016 Afrobarometer, a far-reaching annual survey of the continent’s residents, autocrat approval was not correlated with perceptions of the economy’s health in a statistically significant manner. Based on the results of our analysis, a policy recommendation one might make is not to attempt to sway someone’s dictatorial views by giving them a better or worse perception of the economy. However, my main takeaway from this analysis is that autocrats may be able to use state resources like state-run television to convince residents that their economic woes are due to forces outside of the state’s control, as the responses of these respondents are not in line with what the literature would suggest of residents of democracies.

“Effects of CNY Appreciation on Imports & Domestic
Spending Trends 2004-2012: Did China’s Competitive Devaluation
Scheme Reduce Imports?”
International Studies Undergraduate Senior Thesis
Instructor: Dr. Prashant Bharadwaj

What has been the effect of lifting the CNY to USD peg? Should the Chinese Treasury return to a competitive devaluation scheme to facilitate a shift toward a consumer economy? From 1994 to 2005 the Chinese Yuan was pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 8.28 CNY / 1 USD. In 2016 that number is closer to 6.52 CNY / 1 USD, reflecting an appreciation of ~21%.​ ​ 2005 marked the end of the “peg” or fixed exchange rate that had been part of a competitive devaluation scheme to make Chinese exports more attractive to foreign consumers. To analyze the effects of subsequent currency appreciation between 2005 and 2016, I compare relevant data from China to the same data from India. India, another large export-oriented economy, has experienced significant depreciation of its Rupee against the currencies it imports the most from. I find that currency appreciation is not positively correlated with an increase in imports or consumer spending. In India, for example, imports as a percentage of GDP have more than doubled while the Rupee has depreciated over 30% against the currencies of the countries it imports the most from. This is in contrast with China, where imports have stagnated. However, data on imports as a percentage of GDP show that, when products are elastic, Indian consumers shift towards imports of the countries that are cheaper, suggesting​ currency ​depreciation affects imports. Moreover, I do not find a causal relationship between currency appreciation and an increase in consumer spending. In fact, India’s currency depreciation is coupled with a slight increase in consumer spending (as a percentage of GDP) where China’s appreciation is coupled with a decrease in consumer spending (as a percentage of GDP).

“Counterterrorism Insights from Translating a Terrorist’s
Research Intern, Ronald E. McNair Scholars ProgramPresented at the 2014 UC San Diego Summer Research Conference

Why do well-to-do young people join terrorist organizations, and how can mitigate recruitment? This analysis adds weight to the notion that US military action abroad remains one of the most potent drivers of recruitment to Al-Qaeda In his autobiography, The War Against Islam, Fazul Harun describes his childhood in an upper-class family, his flirtations with Marxism in college, and eventual transition into a becoming one of Al-Qaeda’s most prolific terrorists and recruiters. Harun, the head of Al-Qaeda recruitment in East Africa and mastermind of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in Nairobi, closes the autobiography with a call to action to join the Al-Qaeda based on a perceived war against Islam prosecuted by European powers. He wrote the autobiography in Arabic, and though a report on the document had been created by the CIA, no public translations of any excerpts existed. With Dr. Jeremy Prestholdt, I translated excerpts of the volume (the full autobiography approaches 1000 pages) and analyzed Harun’s recruitment language. Making no distinction between the US and USSR, it was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and US invasion of Iraq that featured most prominently in Harun’s argument that European powers were at war with Islam.

“1453: Conquest or Fall? Cross-cultural Interpretations of
the Conquest of Constantinople”

Research Intern, Eleanor Roosevelt College Honors Research Program
Presented at the 2014 UC San Diego Summer Research Conference
Mentor: Dr. Matthew Herbst May 2014

One might assume that the Catholic nobility of Europe watched the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 with terror. After all, it would not be the last incursion of the Ottoman Empire into the region. However, with a closer look at primary source documents from the time, I found that many of these nobles were eager to cooperate with the rising military power and attributed this sentiment to a sheer contempt for the Greek Orthodox Christianity practiced by their Byzantine counterparts. This analysis was conducted through the comparison of several contemporary sources, including several Catholic nobles from across Western Europe, a former Janissary, and a vizier to Sultan Mehmet II.

Honors, Scholarships, and Awards

Don Tuzin Teaching Excellence Award, MMW Department, UCSD 2020
MMW Disability Advocacy Award, MMW Department, UCSD 2019
Rookie (TA) of the Year, MMW Department, UCSD 2017
Cota-Robles Fellowship Departmental Nominee, UCSD GPS 2017
Diana C. Miles Scholarship, UCSD 2015
McNair Scholars Cohort Member, UCSD 2013-2014
ERC Honors Research Program Member, UCSD 2013-2014
Special Recognition of Community Service, CA State Legislature 2012
Employee of the Year, Students in Prevention, CalWORKS 2011
Williams Family Foreign Language Scholarship, SMHS 2010