I am the Director of the Center for Governance and Markets and Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. My research explores questions of governance, political economy, security, and development with a geographical focus on Central and South Asia and the former Soviet Union.
My first book, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. It was awarded the best book prize (for the proceeding two years) in social sciences by the Central Eurasian Studies Society (2018) and honorable mention by the Global Development Studies Section of the International Studies Association (2017). A second book, Land, the State, and War: Property Rights and The Origins of Political Order in Afghanistan (with Ilia Murtazashvili) is forthcoming with the Cambridge University Press series Economics, Choice, and Society. I am working on several new projects: a book on political and economic reforms in Uzbekistan, a book on the legacies of Soviet-era institutions on state-building efforts in Afghanistan (with Mohammad Qadamshah), and a project on the resurgence of traditional authority around the world.
My research reflects extensive field experience: I have lived on the ground for five years in Uzbekistan and about three years in Afghanistan. This field experience allows me to answer important policy-relevant questions using diverse types of original data ranging from ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, focus group discussions, public opinion surveys, as well as field experiments.
In addition to academic endeavors, I remain deeply engaged in public policy, having served for three years as a democracy and governance officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and for more than a year as a Senior Research Officer at the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. In addition, I have served as an advisor for a number of organizations including the World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Defense, the United Nations Development Program, and UNICEF.
Currently, I am an elected member of the executive boards of the Central Eurasian Studies Society and the Section for International and Comparative Administration of the American Society for Public Administration.
I received a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University in in 1997, an M.A. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2006, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 2009.