My research interests are broadly in international security and conflict. More specifically, my expertise resides in the areas of nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation, nuclear deterrence, the use of inducements in arms control, and foreign policy and decision-making. 


Current Research:

The Power of the Positive: Effectiveness of Positive Inducements in Counterproliferation, Invitation to revise and resubmit

Under what conditions do leaders of states reverse nuclear ambitions? Does the international community play a role in nuclear reversals, and if so, what strategies are most effective at inducing reversal? Roughly three-fourths of the states that began nuclear weapons programs have reversed their ambitions. To explain this pervasive phenomenon, previous literature has largely derived motivations for reversal from motivations for beginning nuclear programs: a change in security threat, the norm for nonproliferation, and domestic considerations such as technical capabilities and regime type. I argue that we should not assume that the motivations for reversing a nuclear program are equivalent to the motivations for beginning one; rather, leaders may reverse their state's nuclear programs for reasons entirely different from why they chose to seek them in the first place. Further, of those studies that consider external inducements to the reversal process, the focus is largely on the efficacy of economic sanctions to prevent proliferation. Few studies focus on the utility of positive inducements, and even fewer look at the net effects of inducement options as a comprehensive package even though proliferation diplomacy often embraces packages in dealing with states of concern. This project sheds new light on the relationship between inducements and nuclear reversal and indicates that carrots may be stronger than sticks in matters of nuclear deproliferation.

All options on the (latency) table: Carrots and Sticks on Nuclear Reversal, with Molly Berkemeier, Rupal Mehta, & Rachel Whitlark. Revising for submission

If policy-makers determine that some latent nuclear programs - meaning those that have not progressed to full weapons acquisition - must be reversed, what is the best way to do so?  To answer this question, we explore existing theories of counterproliferation as a means of reversing nuclear weapons programs to see what leverage they offer in a related, but distinct realm of nuclear latency.  Specifically, how do traditional counter-proliferation strategies (i.e. rewards, sanctions, preventive war) impact state decision-making with regard to nuclear latency? Using data on nuclear activity from 1945-2015, we examine the impact of existing counterproliferation tools on the likelihood of nuclear activity reversal, either success (no nuclear technology) or failure (nuclear weapons). Our analysis yields an important finding: traditional counterproliferation tools effective in the nuclear weapons space seeemingly have limited impact on nuclear latency reversal. In effect, policies aimed at reversing the development of nuclear reversal may have to rely on a completely different set of policy levers than historically employed against nascent nuclear proliferators. This question becomes increasingly salient as we consider the next cohort of states (i.e. Saudi Arabia) that may be interested in pursuing latency not as an avenue for a civilian nuclear program but rather as a hedge towards a nuclear weapons future, or as a regional power balancer in the aftermath of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Understanding what sets of tools may be transferable from the weapons context to exogenously incentivize latency reversal (to either a lower level of latent capacity or non-nuclear status) can help policy-makers adapt existing tools or develop new ones to manage and/or counter the spread of nuclear latency.

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.