Blog posts


There is as Yet Insufficient Data for a Meaningful Answer

Since taking a job as a data scientist three months ago, I’ve spoken with multiple political science PhD students who are interested in potentially making the same transition. This post synthesizes what I’ve said in those conversations with what I’ve learned in my first three months on the job, and I hope it will be helpful to anyone in the same position I was six months ago.

So it goes

When I was applying to graduate school and asking for letters of recommendation from my undergrad professors, one of them told me to give academia three years, and that if I hadn’t found a permanent position by then, to find another career. It’s been three years, and next week I start a new job as a data scientist. I read a fair bit of quit lit in my first couple years of grad school and always told myself that if I went that same route, I would never pen any of my own…


Regular expressions for replication

As part of the publication process for my recent article on how states preempt separatist conflict, I needed to submit replication materials to the journal. I took my graduate quantitative methods sequence with the late Tom Carsey, so I’ve long been a proponent replicability efforts in social science. I also had an hourly job in grad school replicating quantitative results for multiple political science journals, so I’m very familiar with best practices for replication. Unfortunately, in the four years since I wrote the first line of code for this project, somewhere in between defending my dissertation and starting a new job (ok, fine, almost immediately after writing that first line of code), I got a little lazy.

Faceted maps in R

I recently needed to create a choropleth of a few different countries for a project on targeting of UN peacekeepers by non-state armed actors I’m working on. A choropleth is a type of thematic map where data are aggregated up from smaller areas (or discrete points) to larger ones and then visualized using different colors to represent different numeric values.

Finding Backcountry Campsites with CalTopo, OpenStreetMap, and R

Like many people, I’ve been spending more time outdoors during this pandemic. While this means daily walks in my neighborhood, it also means getting out into the wilderness and sleeping in a tent when I can. Although outdoor recreation is one of the safer ways to entertain yourself these days, it’s not without its own concerns. The difficulty of safely getting to trailheads means that while I’m backpacking more than usual, it’s still not as often as I’d like.