Left: At Lake Victoria with my research assistant Hillary Ahomugisha, a Master's student at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.  If you're looking for an outstanding RA, translator, or fixer in Uganda, contact me and I'll put you in touch!

Research Goals & Bio

My overarching goal as an academic researcher is to produce and promote policy-oriented research that will help governments and organizations prevent mass killing and the deliberate targeting of civilians. I believe that networks offer a useful tool for understanding the behavior of individuals, groups, and states in conflict processes. My methodological interests include:

  • Developing methods to identify causal inference in networks

  • Bringing new modeling tools from mathematics and physics into political science

  • Improving network survey design and data collection methods

  • Designing randomized control trials in a network framework

  • Developing approaches to fieldwork in conflict areas that respect for the dignity and well-being of respondents and local staff.  


My substantive interests in political science include:

  • Genocide, mass atrocities, and civilian-targeting during civil wars

  • Impact of cross-group social ties on attitudes and behavior

  • Spread of violence through social, communication, and infrastructure networks

  • Mobilization and organization of armed and non-violent movements

  • Female rebel combatants and the role of women in policing and peacekeeping


A native of Washington, DC, I earned my B.A. in mathematics and statistics with a concentration in international studies at Williams College in Massachusetts, where I ran cross country and track.  My thesis on hyperbolic geometry, since published, is available here.  Prior to graduate school, I designed and conducted a door-to-door survey on civic engagement among nomads in rural Mongolia, served on senior staff at Seeds of Peace International Camp, interned at Search for Common Ground, and taught high school math and social studies.  During my teaching career, I designed a course on social choice and electoral systems called "Math, Politics, and Society."

Contact: simonson.m [at] northeastern [dot] edu