SPEC Lab logoThe Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab conducts interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on issues at the intersection of climate change, security, and economic development. These research projects provide opportunities for undergraduate students to develop data science and other research skills and apply them directly to the policy challenges facing national governments and international institutions.

The interdisciplinary nature of the SPEC Lab draws students from a wide range of fields including International Relations, Economics, Computer Science, Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Mathematics. We focus in particular on recruiting and serving female, minority, and first generation students. In a close-knit, supportive research community we are building the next generation of social science researchers.  We typically recruit new members each semester, with most students starting in the fall.

If you are interested in joining my research team, please go to the main SPEC Lab website and fill out the interest form.

Resources, Climate, and Conflict Team

What is the connection between natural resources and conflict?  We study the ways in which resource wealth and dependence can motivate and prolong conflict within states. Relatedly, we also look at how environmental degradation and climate uncertainty related to climate change may spur conflict. We take a ‘mixed methods’ approach–combining statistical analyses with qualitative cases studies that can illuminate the causal mechanisms that connect natural resources and the environment to social conflict and civil war.


Team Members:

Hailey Robertson (Team Lead)

Shanzeh Faheem

Jill Glickman

Joe Jocas

Elizabeth Squires

Helen Williams



Srividya Dasaraju

Bethany Ford (REU)

Ari Kelo (REU)

Lindsay Lauder

Douglas Luo

Isabelle Nazha

Sarah Orsborn

Bethany Thompson (REU)

Nick Tinoco

Ben Wu


Education, Evaluation, and Pedagogy Team

This team consists of POIR PhD students who work with SPEC.  They run educational workshops for our undergraduates, lead student research teams, help evaluate lab outcomes, and work on pedagogy research based on lab activities.


PhD Student Team Members:

Alix Ziff (Lab Director)

Nico Albertoni

Miriam Barnum

Gaea Morales



Therese Anders

R. Joseph Huddleston

Xinru Ma

Kelebogile Zvobgo