Board of Directors and Principal Investigators

Valerie M. Hudson
Professor and George H.W. Bush Chair at The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, has researched national security affairs, foreign policy analysis, and gender in international relations. Hudson has authored numerous publications, including Sex and World Peace (with Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Mary Caprioli, and Chad Emmett; Columbia University Press, 2012), and Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population (with Andrea Den Boer, MIT Press 2004), which won the Association of American Publishers Award for best book and the Otis Dudley Duncan Award for best book in social demography. She is a recipient of the Karl G. Maeser Excellence in Teaching Award, served as president of the Foreign Policy Analysis Section of the International Studies Association, and for eight years directed the graduate program in international relations at the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University. Hudson received a PhD from the Ohio State University, and has taught previously at Northwestern, Rutgers, and Brigham Young Universities.
Personal Website:

Rose McDermott
A professor of political science at Brown University, researches in the areas of political psychology, American foreign policy, and international relations theory. McDermott has authored Risk Taking in International Relations: Prospect Theory in American Foreign Policy and Political Psychology in International Relations as well as numerous articles on experimentation in political science. She recently completed a series of experiments funded by the Department of Defense on sex differences in aggression. In 2000, she was the recipient of the Erik Erikson Award for distinguished early career contribution from the International Society of Political Psychology and has been a John M. Olin national security postdoctoral fellow and a Women and Public Policy postdoctoral fellow, both at Harvard University. McDermott received a PhD from Stanford University.
Personal Website:

Mary Caprioli
An associate professor of political science at the University of Minnesota—Duluth, Head of the Department of Political Science and Director of the International Relations Program, has researched the role of gendered structural inequality on political conflict and violence, including interstate/intrastate violence and security issues broadly defined to include human rights. Caprioli has published articles in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, International Security, and the Journal of Peace Research, and is writing two books. From 1999–2004, she was an associate editor for International Studies Perspectives. Her work has highlighted the need for cross-national data on women that captures the full extent of inequality relative to each society. She has been awarded several research grants and her expertise has been sought by the World Bank, UNIFEM, and the Africa Peace Forum. She brings experience in data development and is an advisory board member of the Minorities at Risk Project. Caprioli received a PhD from the University of Connecticut.

Andrea den Boer
A lecturer in international politics at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, researches in the area of ethics, women’s rights, and gender in international relations. Her publications include a co-authored book with Valerie Hudson (Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population, MIT Press 2004), articles on women’s rights and the effectiveness of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and writings on the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Her current research examines issues related to violence against women in Asian states. She is an associate editor of Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations. Den Boer received her PhD from the University of Kent.

Donna Lee Bowen
Professor of Political Science and Middle East Studies at BYU where she teaches courses in comparative politics, Middle East politics, Middle East area studies, and gender politics. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
Professor Bowen writes on the intersection of religion, tradition and politics in the Middle East and has authored articles and a forthcoming book on attempts to construct policy which reflects Muslim sensibilities, specifically social policy concerning family planning and abortion. Her edited book, Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East (with Evelyn A. Early), is widely used in universities and a third edition of this popular work is in press. She is currently working on research determining the relationship between family law and state peacefulness.
She has traveled, lived and researched in North Africa and the Middle East, has held two Fulbright grants to Morocco and Tunisia, and also received research funding from the Ford Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, and the David M. Kennedy Center.
Professor Bowen has served in numerous administrative capacities at BYU, as well as nationally and internationally. The positions include Faculty Coordinator of the Middle East Studies/Arabic program in the David M. Kennedy Center for International Affairs; Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America; the offices of Treasurer, Vice President and Board of Directors of the American Institute of Maghrib Studies. She currently serves on the advisory board of BYU Studies and TALIM, the Tangier American Legation Museum. In addition to her academic work, she has completed consulting projects on aspects of population, politics, development and women’s status for the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development.
She is married to James R. Barnes, professor emeritus, Department of Zoology, BYU. They are the parents of three daughters and grandparents to 11 grandchildren.

Perpetua Lynne Nielsen
An associate teaching professor of Statistics at Brigham Young University (BYU), joined the WomanStats Project in fall 2012 after co-writing a Politics and Gender journal article with Valerie Hudson and Donna Lee Bowen. Her research interests are in the area women’s situation in clan-based societies, clans and the rule of law, mentoring women in higher education, Statistics education, classical test theory, and blended learning in large distance education courses. Prior to her BYU faculty appointment, Nielsen worked for: the Philippine government conducting nationwide surveys to measure the socio-economic impact of electrification on rural households and small businesses, Intel as a statistical process control consultant, and SkyMall as a market research director. Nielsen received a BS in Mathematics from the University of the Philippines, an MS in Statistics from Brigham University and is currently a PhD candidate in Instructional Psychology and Technology at BYU.

Valentine Moghadam
Valentine M. Moghadam joined Northeastern University in Boston as Director of the International Affairs Program, and Professor of Sociology, in January 2012. She was previously at Purdue University. Born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Moghadam received her higher education in Canada and the U.S. In addition to her academic career, she has been a senior research fellow at UNU/WIDER in Helsinki, Finland (1990-95), and a section chief at UNESCO in Paris (2004-06). Dr. Moghadam’s areas of research are globalization, revolutions and social movements, transnational feminist networks, and gender in the Middle East and North Africa. Among her many publications are Modernizing Women: Gender and Social Change in the Middle East (1993, 2003, 2013), Globalizing Women: Transnational Feminist Networks (2005, winner of the American Political Science Association’s Victoria Schuck Award), and Globalization and Social Movements: Islamism, Feminism, and the Global Justice Movement (2009, 2013). Her current research is on prospects for a women-friendly democratization after the Arab Spring.
University Website:

Alison Brysk
Alison Brysk is Mellichamp Professor of Global Governance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of ten books and edited volumes on human rights, including The Politics of Human Rights in Argentina (1994), From Tribal Village to Global Village (2000), Human Rights and Private Wrongs (2005), Global Good Samaritans: Human Rights as Foreign Policy (2009), andSpeaking Rights to Power (2013). Professor Brysk has held visiting appointments in Argentina, Ecuador, France, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Japan and Fulbright appointments in Canada and India. In 2013-14, she was a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Dara Kay Cohen
Dara Kay Cohen is an assistant professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests span the field of international relations, including international security, civil war and the dynamics of violence, and gender and conflict. Her forthcoming book, Rape During Civil War (Cornell University Press, 2016), examines the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador.
Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in the American Political Science Review, World Politics, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, International Security, and Stanford Law Review, and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, Folke Bernadotte Academy and the Peace Research Institute Oslo, among others. In 2011, Cohen was awarded the American Political Science Association's Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Politics, and in 2014, Cohen received the Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best article published in the American Political Science Review in the previous year.
Cohen received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an A.B. in political science and philosophy from Brown University. Cohen served as a paralegal in the Outstanding Scholars Program in the Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001-2003. Prior to joining the Kennedy School, she was an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Sabrina Karim
Sabrina Karim’s (PhD candidate, Emory University) will start as an assistant professor in Government at Cornell University in 2017. During 2016-2017, she is a Dartmouth Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security She is the co-author of a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press entitled Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping. She has forthcoming and published work relate to security, peacekeeping, and gender in International Organization, The Journal of Peace Research, International Interactions, and International Peacekeeping. Her research interests include gender reforms in the post-conflict security sector and in peacekeeping, the effect of security sector reform on peace and security, third party involvement in peace processes, and the relationship between conflict-related violence and post-conflict sexual violence. She has conducted extensive fieldwork in Liberia and Peru, and employs multiple methods in her work including field experiments. She is a recipient of both the Fulbright Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. She received her master’s degree as a Clarendon Scholar from Oxford University and her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University. Personal website:

Catalina Monroy
An Assistant Professor in the Politics and International Relations program at Rosario University in Bogotá, Colombia. She received her PhD in the program of Political Studies at the University Externado de Colombia, Bogotá where she focused mainly in Colombian and Latin American foreign policy analysis. Her current research interests include gender and International Relations, gender and urban security and women´s political empowerment. She runs the "WomanStats en español" project in Colombia and she is aiming to expand the WomanStats Project to the entire Latin American region.

Senem Ertan
An assistant professor in the Political Science Faculty at Ankara Social Sciences University in Ankara, Turkey. She received her PhD from the University of Siena in 2013, after receiving her M.A. in Global Political Economy from the University of Kassel, Germany and her B.A. in International Relations from the Ege University, Turkey. She has published an article about Laicism and State building in Turkey in Interdisciplinary Political Studies and some book reviews in Political Studies Review and Peripherie: Zeitschrift für Politik und Ökonomie in der dritten Welt on the topics of Women’s Humans Rights and Religion & Politics. Her current research interests include gender equality policies, women’s rights in Muslim countries, religion and politics, and comparative research. She has been affiliated to the WomanStats Project since September 2011 whilst completing a research period at the Brigham Young University for her dissertation on gender equality policies in Muslim countries.

Juan Pablo Vallejo
A Consultant for the Climate Change and Sustainability Division of the Inter-American Development Bank in Bogotá, Colombia. He is also teacher of Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development. Juan Pablo received an MS on Environmental Management from Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is currently working on a research project that explores the effects of climate change in Colombia from a gender perspective.

Emily A. Sellars
Emily A. Sellars is an assistant professor in the Department of International Affairs at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Her research interests are at the intersection of comparative political economy and development economics. Her current projects examine the political and institutional consequences of migration, population dynamics, gender relations, and land tenure arrangements in Mexico and Central America. She received her Ph.D. in political science and agricultural and applied economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Celeste Beesley
Celeste Beesley, an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University, researches in the areas of international and comparative political economy. Her current research examines political participation, women and globalization, welfare state demand, corruption and preferences over the use of force. She has a particular interest in the political economy of post-communist countries and has previously received a Fulbright grant for study in Russia and a National Science Foundation Dissertation Grant and a Boren Fellowship for research in Ukraine. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego in 2013.

Laura Renner
Laura Renner is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Her work focuses on empirical economic research on migration, including a gendered perspective on migration as well as institutions such as inheritance in polygynous societies and implications for security and stability of countries. She received her Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Freiburg in 2018. Previously, she studied Economics at Tübingen University and Heidelberg University.

Mattias Ottervik
Mattias Ottervik received a PhD in political science from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a Master’s degree in political science from the University of Gothenburg, and a BA in history from Yale University. His main research interest is the progress and causes of social and economic development in general, and in East Asia in particular. The research done by scholars associated with WomanStats brought him to the project in 2018. Ottervik's research is on the long-term effect of changes in gender equality. Prior to his graduate studies Ottervik worked in Japan for a marketing company as a researcher and analyst, and for a high frequency trading firm as a network administrator. He is currently an assistant professor at Shandong University in China.

Carlo Koos
Carlo Koos is a senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Bergen and is affiliated with the University of Konstanz and the University College London. His research interests lie at the intersection of comparative politics, peace and conflict studies and international development. He is particularly interested in (1) gender norms and its relationship to conflict, peace and development as well as (2) the conditions under which humanitarian assistance and aid projects contribute to political trust and social cohesion in post-conflict contexts. His research has appeared in World Development, World Politics, International Interactions and Conflict Management and Peace Science, among others. Carlo has conducted field research and data collection in Liberia, the DR Congo, South Sudan, Burundi and Nigeria. His research has been supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the KfW Development Bank, the World Bank, the Welthungerhilfe and Oxfam. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hamburg in 2015 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Konstanz and the University College London.

Modupe Oshikoya
Modupe Oshikoya obtained her BA with honors in politics and development studies and an MSc in International Politics with a focus on African politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where her master’s thesis, titled 'The Logic of Violence in Civil War' focused on the civil war in Sierra Leone. Modupe previously worked for the House of Commons research service for six years, providing research briefings on international affairs. She also worked for the British Red Cross on their Disaster Management Programme that helped UK citizens affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami. She recently co-authored a chapter in the ‘The Handbook of Civil Society in Africa’ (published October 2013), which looks at the effect of civil society organisations on democracy and governance structures in Africa. Her current research interests include feminist security studies and gendered insecurity in civil war in Africa.

Arielle Badger Newman
Arielle Badger Newman is an Assistant Professor of Management at The University of Southern Mississippi College of Business and Economic Development. Arielle received her BA in International Relations where she worked as a coder for the WomanStats Project from 2010-2011 and her MS in International Affairs and Global Enterprise, where she began studying international business and entrepreneurship. After opening her own swim school franchise in Utah, Arielle began her PhD studies focusing on Comparative Political Economy at the University of Utah, completed 2018. Arielle researches informal entrepreneurship in emerging economies, specifically female owned businesses in informal economies, women entrepreneurs, and the creation of legitimacy of new ventures. While not studying or working, Arielle enjoys reading to her sons and ballroom dancing with her husband.

Rebecca Nielsen
Rebecca Nielsen is an assistant professor at Rosario University in Bogota, Colombia. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at Yale University, and is an alumna of Brigham Young University, where she started working with WomanStats in 2007. Her dissertation project, funded in part by the National Science Foundation and Yale MacMillan Center, examines the consequences of civil war for women’s networks and political participation. She has conducted several years of field research on female secret societies in West Africa, particularly Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Personal Website:

S. Matthew Stearmer
Matthew Stearmer has been affiliated with the WomanStats Project since 2001, and was instrumental in developing the original database. Stearmer's current research interests examine the intersection between migration, minority group organization, and violence. He is especially interested in how structural level effects increase the risk of violence within society, and how these structures differentially affect the violence women and men experience. Prior research has examined historical sex-ratios on the American frontier, policy effects on breast-feeding, the development of a comparative international rape scale, and tracking social movements (including women's organizations) via Twitter. Stearmer is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at The Ohio State University, having received a BA in International Studies, an MS in Geography, and an MS in Sociology at Brigham Young University.

Emeritus: Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill
Professor emeritus of psychology at Brigham Young University where she directed the Women’s Research Institute. She is a fellow in both the American Psychological Association (1984) and the Association for Psychological Science (1987). After twenty-five years as a professor and department chair in the graduate school of Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City, Ballif-Spanvill returned to her alma mater in 1994. In addition to her professional papers and publications that address motivation and emotion, the impact of domestic violence on children, and techniques to break intergenerational cycles of violence, she is the coeditor of A Chorus for Peace: A Global Anthology of Poetry by Women; and coauthor of both Sex and World Peace, which demonstrates that security of women is a vital factor in state’s incidence of conflict and war; and PEACEABILITIES: Compelling Stories and Activities that Develop Abilities of Children to Live Peacefully with Others.

Emeritus: Chad F. Emmett
An associate professor of geography at Brigham Young University, specializes in political geography and the geography of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, with much of his research focused on the status of Christians in the Islamic world. Emmett speaks Arabic and Indonesian and has traveled and researched widely in both regions. His publications include Beyond the Basilica: Christians and Muslims in Nazareth (University of Chicago Press 1995) and other works that explore possible ways in which the city of Jerusalem can be peacefully shared, how varying methods of sharing sacred places can be used as models for sharing political space, and the role of Palestinian Christians in the Palestinian nationalist movement. In addition to WomanStats, he is working on a similar project that will be used to analyze the status of Christians in countries with a Muslim majority. Emmett received a PhD from the University of Chicago, and in 2014 was awarded a General Education Professorship at BYU.


Robert Ulrich Nagel
Robert U. Nagel is a PhD candidate in International Conflict Analysis at the University of Kent, UK, where he holds the School of Politics and International Relations Scholarship. His PhD project aims to analyse different aspects of the gender-conflict nexus. Dr. Andrea den Boer is part of his supervisory team. One of Robert’s main research interests is the relationship between societies’ levels of son preference and their approach to conflict resolution and peacemaking. Other interests include conflict resolution, particularly mediation, and the influence of gender on conflict characteristics, on rebel groups and conflict dynamics, and on the sustainability of peace. At the University of Kent Robert is a teaching assistant for ‘Political Research and Analysis’, an introductory module on quantitative methods, and for ‘Fact, Evidence, Knowledge and Power’, a module on research design and mixed methods.

Clara Neupert-Wentz
Clara Neupert-Wentz is a doctoral candidate in political science and research fellow at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Her research focuses on peace and conflict research, with a particular focus on formal and informal institutions, customary gender norms, the geography of conflict, and quantitative methods. Previously, she has been a visiting fellow at Stanford University and studied at the University of Mannheim, Germany, the University of Bergen, Norway, and the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Natalie Wright Romeri-Lewis
Natalie Wright Romeri-Lewis, Senior Project Associate at The WomanStats Project, studied international development, refugees, and law. She has explored judicial reform and women's informal power in developing nations and lived in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. She has worked in judicial chambers and NGOs, consulted internationally, and presented to new staff at UN permanent missions on how to improve the quality of contribution and quantity of female negotiators. Currently, she teaches international development and leads several projects at The WomanStats Project: UN data-collection effort, international outreach (e.g. conferences), recruitment of new coders, training coordination, internships, and translations. She also researches urban poverty among women in Colombia as well as the rule of law worldwide. In the future, Natalie hopes to study whether the timing of the creation of power-sharing “institutions” (e.g. free press, courts, elections, constitutions) and high female participation affect the stability or transparency of newly emerging democracies.

Lauren A. Eason
Lauren A. Eason has been affiliated with the WomanStats Project since 2012 and now serves as the Senior Research Associate for the Minerva Initiative Research Award sponsored by the Department of Defense. She received a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Criminal Justice from the University of Georgia in 2010. She went on to obtain a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University in 2013. Currently living and working in Washington, D.C., Lauren’s research interest focuses on the relationship between gender, human trafficking, and CBRN weapons.

Julie Ford Brenning
Julie Brenning received a Master's degree in Asian Studies from the University of Utah. Her thesis research focused on socio-economic variables associated with the sex ratio imbalance in China. She has created the largest database in the world solely devoted to the sex ratio at birth and includes over 200 sources and 120 data points. Her current work is focussed on the initiatives in India to curb the high sex ratio at birth and sex-selective abortion occurring in the United States. She presented her preliminary results to the Congressional Commission on China in Washington D.C. in 2016..

Jessica Wells
Jessica Wells received a Master's in Public Policy from Brigham Young University where she also received a BA in Economics. She previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for the WomanStats Project while completing her Master's degree and worked with the Worldwide Organization for Women as a Global Education Opportunity intern in Geneva, Switzerland. Jessica's research interests include the intersection of women's property rights and economic development, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa.