Display in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Seattle, WA (2019).

Dissertation Book Project:

“Governance in Crisis: Philanthropy and the Politics of Global Outbreaks”

Under what conditions philanthropic foundations act as policy entrepreneurs during global governance crises? This study examines global health emergencies as focusing events, spanning seven major outbreaks either declared or considered for declaration as Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs) by the World Health Organization (WHO) between 2002 and 2019 – from SARS, to Polio, to Ebola – to demonstrate the mechanisms beyond funding by which large independent foundations influence the global health policy agenda over time.

This mixed-method project sheds light on mechanisms by which foundations engage in global governance policy process to produce a model of foundation engagement in global health emergency response. I employ statistical analysis, interviews with foundation and UN officials, and process tracing to analyze variation in engagement of 525 foundation funders over 18 years. Causal mechanisms underlying quantitative results are tested in three case studies drawing on additional interviews and process tracing to examine foundation engagement in the 2009 H1N1 response, 2014 Polio outbreak response, and 2014 Ebola response. In a shadow case, I test my theory using preliminary data from the COVID-19 response. Results illuminate the mechanisms by and extent to which foundations—a relatively understudied actor in international relations—operate within global governance networks to catalyze policy change. My first article on this topic, a conceptual piece examining the history and role of philanthropy in international relations as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, is under review and has received a Revise and Resubmit. I expect to submit two additional papers presenting preliminary findings by Spring 2021.

The World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland (2019).

Pandemics and Borders

Through my Research Fellowship at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, I contribute to Pandemics and Borders, a collaborative research project examining cross-border trade and travel measures states take in response to infectious disease outbreaks, co-led by Professor Catherine Worsnop. This work entails development of an original dataset documenting cross-border measures states have taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to a series of case studies examining individual state decision-making. A primary aim of this research is to employ international relations frameworks to better understand state behavior and compliance (or lack thereof) with the International Health Regulations (IHR), the body of international law governing state responses to infectious disease outbreaks. With Catherine Worsnop, I am developing a case study of the US government’s COVID-19 response with respect to these cross-border measures to be analyzed in comparative context.

Other Research Programs

International Cooperation and COVID-19
As part of my broader research agenda on international cooperation and global health, I am engaged in collaborations seeking to understand the global response to COVID-19 through an international relations lens. With Professor Denise Garcia and our undergraduate student Sara Corey, I have a project examining the unprecedented extent and structure of scientific cooperation in response to COVID-19. We utilize citation data from top scientific and medical journals, as well as pre-print publications, to understand how scientists engaged in early cooperative endeavors even in the absence of state cooperation. In another project with Professor Catherine Worsnop, we analyze the politics of joining COVAX, the public-private partnership seeking to ensure equitable global vaccine distribution. We consider motivation, order, and timing of state commitments, shedding light on the degree to which newer, more nimble public-private partnerships represent fundamental shifts in the nature of international cooperation during crises versus continuation of established patterns.

Environmental Governance, Humanitarian Response, and US Foreign Policy
Other areas of my research focus include work on US foreign policy, humanitarian response, environmental governance, and climate security, including social resilience to conflict and disaster. I have published a peer-reviewed article examining issue linkages between infectious disease and climate change as they relate to global health governance reforms, and have a co-authored article under review, which challenges prevailing beliefs about relationships between climate change issue framing and US policy outcomes. Related to this work, I am a member of Northeastern University’s Aldrich Resilience Lab, led by my dissertation chair, Professor Daniel Aldrich. In partnership with this group, I am a collaborator in ongoing survey research employing methodology commonly used in post-disaster contexts to study select neighborhoods in Boston and New York, assessing the role of social ties in local COVID-19 response and recovery.


Geneva, Switzerland (2019)
Seattle, Washington, USA (2019)

Academic Publications available here.