You are here: American University Research Faculty-Student Collaborations

Partnerships that Expand Research

"Collaboration between faculty and students, is a win-win. It can provide the student with a valuable research experience and the professor with fresh ideas and perspectives." - AU Prof. Boaz Atzili

Faculty-Student Collaborations in Academic Year 2022

American University is proud to offer many opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to engage in collaborative work with faculty. These partnerships align with the university’s strategic focus on student thriving. Below is a sample of the exciting collaborations that are taking place at AU.

Doctoral Research Partnerships

Professor Boaz Atzili, SIS and PhD Candidate Min Jung Kim, SIS

The team is collaborating on a research project titled “Buffering Conflict: Geographic Separation Mechanisms, Security, and Insecurity.” They work on a global dataset of buffer state and intra-state buffers between rival states, as well as conduct comparative case studies of buffers in the Middle East and Asia. Atzili and Kim study the origins and development of buffer zones as well as their implication to relations between the rival states that surrounds them and to human security of the buffer’s population.

They have been working on this project for the last year, and in conjunction with it have applied for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. They presented sections of the project at a conference of the International Security Section of the International Studies Association (ISSS) in Bloomington, IN (with another SIS PhD student, Grace Benson). They will also present its theoretical framework and preliminary findings in two forthcoming conferences: The Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), in Nashville, TN, and International Borders in a Globalizing World conference at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Professor Joseph Torigian, SIS and PhD Candidate Eleni Ekmektsioglou, SIS

The team received a grant from APSIA to conduct a workshop on Research and Teaching about Emerging Techonologies. The goal of the workshop is bring together a number of rising junior scholars whose work looks at the timely and pressing question of emerging technologies and their impact on International Security and International Affairs. The workshop will have two components:

The first part of the workshop will give an opportunity to junior scholars to present innovative research that is theoretically and methodologically rigorous, as well as has important implications for policy. The workshop aims to showcase original ideas on methodological tools or under-studied case studies.

The second part of the workshop will revolve around a dialogue on teaching tools and methods for courses that focus on emerging technologies. Given the ever-evolving and highly technical nature of the issue, teaching can be challenging. We would like to carve some space for both senior and junior scholars to reflect on lingering challenges in teaching these subjects and to think creatively about potential solutions. In addition, we aim to develop a potential teaching collaboration, which we hope to launch by Fall 2022. We are planning to host the workshop during the Spring semester 2022 which will give enough time for potential teaching collaborations to materialize before the Fall semester of 2022.

Professor Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, SIS and PhD Candidiate Veronic Limeberry, SIS

The team has been collaborating on many scholarly projects that relate to Veronica's doctoral research: an ethnography of law, community-led encuentros, and interviews to examine the intersections between agrobiodiversity, food sovereignty, and territorial rights for Indigenous and Afro-Descendant groups in Oaxaca Mexico, Andean Peru, and the Tribuga Gulf of Colombia. One large project was an NSF SESYNC (2018-2021) Pursuit. This spun off into a series of community-based shared analysis 'encuentros' in Appalachia, Yucatan Mex, and Andean Peru. They are currently finalizing revisions for a peer-reviewed paper on that methodology for the International Journal Droits et Culture. In the meantime, they have presented at numerous conferences on this multifaceted, multilingual project: at AAG, POLLEN, among others. This has also evolved and expanded into a multimedia, bilingual, international, open access new special feature at a prominent high-impact factor (6.053~!) journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

In addition, the team recently published the following co-authored article: Displacement of the Scholar? Participatory Action Research Under COVID-19 in the open access journal Frontiers of Sustainable Food Systems.

Mathias Student Research Conference


The Mathias Student Research Conference is a forum for CAS students to present original scholarly and creative works before colleagues, faculty, and friends. Students have a faculty advisor to guide them with their research. Each oral and poster presentation is juried by a group of AU Community Judges. The list of student awards is available. 

Conference Spotlight

Nitya Aggarwal, Liana Garcia, Hannah Nisonson, and Kayah Ryerson won the award for the Undergraduate Social Sciences Workshop. They are helping with the data analysis and mathematical modeling for the Multiscale RECIPES for Sustainable Food Systems grant. A five-year, $15 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to research wasted food. The grant is led by principal investigator Sauleh Siddiqui, CAS.

Peace & Violence Lab

Meet The Fellows

The Peace and Violence Research Lab (PVRL) supports undergraduate and graduate research on topics related to peace and political violence. Fellows work with a faculty mentor whose interest matches their own and have the chance to develop research projects, present the research at conferences, and collaborate closely with faculty. There are research workshops and meetings throughout the year to gain research skills and feedback for student's projects.

Lab Fellow: Ali Siddiqi
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tricia Bacon
Project Title: Returning Back to Kashmir: Examining Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Actions and Discourse after the Taliban Victory in Afghanistan

Being a part of PVRL has helped me gain invaluable skills and insight into conducting through research, especially in fields that I am most passionate about such as South Asian Foreign Policy and Conflict Resolution assisting me with my classes and future career prospects.

Project Abstract: Over the past fourteen years, the Pakistani military apparatus has increasingly circumscribed Lashkar-e-Taiba’s activities in Kashmir. Consequently, this led the group to increase its activities in Afghanistan, assisting the Taliban against the American-led coalition and directing attacks against Indian targets. Now that the U.S. has withdrawn and the Taliban emerged victoriously, the question arises: Has the Taliban victory in Afghanistan affected Lashkar-e-Taiba’s actions in Kashmir and its subsequent discourse, and if so, how has it changed? Previous literature has examined two potential theories to explain Lashkar’s past actions in the region. Pakistani state-sponsorship and the domino theory. However, these theories do not account for a potential Taliban victory in Afghanistan and its implications on the Kashmiri conflict. This paper intends to address that gap by examining Lashkar-e-Taiba’s statements and actions in Kashmir after the Taliban victory and test to determine if the domino theory would best serve as an effective determinant of Lashkar’s future actions. The paper will adopt a mixed-methods approach consisting of a comparative case study and discourse analysis. The paper will use the time periods 1996-2002, 2009-2013, and August 2021 - January 2022 as its primary cases; Lashkar-e-Taiba’s actions in Kashmir and its discourse on the region will be the unit of analysis of the study. These cases will compare and analyze Lashkar-e-Taiba’s actions and discourse and account for how both theories are influential determinants of Lashkar’s actions and discourse. The paper observed that whereas domino theory and state-sponsorship worked in conjunction during the first two periods, they diverged in period three. It found that in its divergence, Pakistani state-sponsorship prevailed and served as the determinant for Lashkar’s actions instead of the domino theory. Furthermore, it found that the preferences of its Pakistani state-sponsors also shape the organization’s discourse on Kashmir, though at a more limited rate.

Lab Fellow: Elizabeth Wahlenmayer
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tricia Bacon
Project Title: Explaining Al-Qaida Affiliates’ Alliance Perpetuation 

Collaborating with Dr. Bacon pushed me to research very thoroughly and become a mini subject matter expert. It was a great experience to engage with counterterrorism researchers and experts in the field through interviews.

Project Description: This paper explores why al-Qaida’s three other affiliates stayed loyal to al-Qaida during the rise of the Islamic State, with a broader application to why alliances persist among militant groups.

Lab Fellow: David Leschiner
AU Faculty Mentor: Dr. Susanna Campbell
Project Title: Influencing Aid: The use of Twitter to shape donor-recipient aid negotiations

Project Description: Foreign aid negotiations are often described as a relationship between donor and recipient states in which the donor has a majority of the power. New research points to the potentially increasing leverage of recipient governments in these negotiations, although it does not specify how recipient governments exercise this leverage. This project researches one possible tool recipient governments use to get leverage: Twitter. According to this theory, officials in recipient states use Twitter as a way to rally support in an aid negotiation position and signal to donor states what their demands are. We intend to research this phenomenon by gathering a selection of tweets from officials and actors in recipient governments and then analyze how they use their platforms as a way to shape the outcome of an aid negotiation. The findings of this research will inform readers about the changing nature of aid and provide new insight into the aid negotiating process.

Lab Fellow: Grace Gold
Project Title: Eco-Direct Action: Future Dispositions and Actions
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Thomas Zeitzoff

Working with Professor Zeitzoff has given me an incredible opportunity to learn research techniques and collect data first-hand. Gathering this kind of research is an opportunity I would not have had without PVRL and Professor's Zietzoff's guidance!

Project Abstract: Due to the saliency and threat that climate change poses to the younger generations, the research analyzes possible future trends surrounding the eco-direct action (eco-terrorism) movement. An original survey, focusing on the acceptability of using different eco-direct actions for producing environmental action was run. This nationally representative survey indicated that the youth generation is more likely to support eco-direct action tatics, than the older generation. The results indicated there may be conditions for a rise in eco-direct actions, as the younger generation deals with the impacts of climate change, and desire radical action.

Lab Fellow: Skylar White
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Joe Young
Project Name: Why Murder Rises During Crises: Conspiracies and Distrust during COVID-19

Working with a faculty mentor to conduct research pushed me to do my best work, challenged me to be creative when obstacles arose, and introduced me to inspirational professionals!

Abstract: Over the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil saw its first increase in annual homicide rates for the first time in three years. The homicide rate rose by 5%, making an already anxiety-ridden and deadly year even worse off. During this same period, the US’s annual homicide count shot up to 29%, only comparable to the 20% increase seen due to the 9/11 terror attacks. This marks the largest year-to-year increase in American homicides in over 100 years, and leaves many asking How did things get so bad? This paper analyzed what background factors correlated with a higher increase in year-to-year homicide rates.