Carnegie Mellon University


Are you interested in doing research for credit in the Institute for Politics and Strategy during the spring 2023 semester? Please find below a list of research topics with open positions. Research credit can range from 3-9 units. Please contact the IPS professor directly to discuss the opportunity. Once you and the faculty member agree to work together, you will complete the research for credit form, and the IPS deputy director will register you for the course. 

Professor Ignacio Arana

Former Latin American Presidents, Between Courts and Ballots

Professor Arana is working on a paper that examines the political destiny of 162 former Latin American presidents that left the presidency since the last wave of democratization (1978-). Several former presidents have remained politically influential, sometimes returning to the presidency. Others have faced political and legal persecution, ending up in prison or exiled. Assistance is welcome to examine the biography of former presidents and to write a literature review about the activities in which presidents get involved once they step down from office. Assistants will gain experience in data collection, writing a literature review, and learning on a relevant yet understudied subject. Their contribution will be acknowledged once the paper is published.

Professor Dan Silverman

The Rebel Organization Leaders Database

The Rebel Organization Leaders (ROLE) database is an ongoing effort at multiple universities to document the attributes and experiences of rebel, insurgent, and terrorist leaders around the world. We have now completed version 1.0 of the database which contains detailed biographical data on over 500 rebel leaders and published multiple articles using the data. We are currently looking for help in two areas: (1): we need help finishing our website to host and showcase the database (note that we are using a point-and-click web platform called Wix for this, so RAs do not need expertise in web design), and (2) we are working to extend the database in multiple new directions and need RAs to research and code new variables, including what happens to these individuals after they lead rebellions. There may also be opportunities for RAs interested in other areas such as (preliminary) data analysis and visualization.

Professor Dan Silverman

Quantitative Analysis of Russian War Telegram – Python Proficiency Needed

I am beginning a project examining trends on Russian war telegram – that is, among the massive volume of Russian conversations about the war in Ukraine on the social media platform Telegram. I and my collaborators are looking for a research assistant with proficiency in Python who would be able to help us scrape and analyze the textual data. This should be someone who has a solid background in Python and is interested in using it for an exciting new social science challenge while building their skill set in text-as-data analysis/natural language processing (NLP), a marketable and important area.

Professor John Chin

Technologies of Rebellion/ Politics of Coups

Professor Chin has a number of ongoing active research projects related to technologies of rebellion and the politics of coups, self-coups, assassinations, mass protest, and/or armed insurgency. RAs may assist with data collection and cleaning, writing case studies of self-coup / assassination / revolutionary events, analyzing and visualizing data, and/or writing bibliographic entries for an Historical Dictionary of Modern Political Assassinations. Project selection and roles will depend on balancing the interests, skills, and prior experience of the student and needs of different projects. There are no prerequisites. 

Professor Pearce Edwards

Human Rights Trials in Argentina and the role of the Catholic Church

Why are some new democracies able to prosecute former dictators and their associates for human rights violations? There are many obstacles to prosecutions: collecting evidence, defining legal standards under which violations may be tried, and persuading judges and prosecutors to pursue human rights cases. My ongoing research examines human rights trials in one newer democracy - Argentina - and the role of one institution - the Catholic Church - in overcoming obstacles to prosecution there. A student researcher with at least intermediate Spanish-language skills would assist as I analyze the proceedings of Argentine human rights trials to determine the contribution (or opposition) of the Catholic Church to such prosecutions.

Professor Aycan Katitas

Economic Policies in Response to COVID-19

Since March 2020, countries had used diverse economic policies to rapidly response to the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic. The variation in countries’ economic responses are of interest to the political economists, yet to date a comprehensive dataset for all countries does not exist. To study the causes and consequences of the different economic policies, we (an international research collaboration) created a survey instrument to code and categorize the domestic and international economic policies countries have implemented throughout the pandemic. Professor Katitas would like to work with a group of motivated undergraduate students to collect and code the universe of economic policies using the created instrument. Economic background (i.e introduction to economics, micro-macro economics courses) required, any R or Python knowledge is a plus.