Trevor Johnston

From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki

Hi all,

I am a first year (well, now second year) Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I study formal methods and comparative politics, with a focus on the Middle East. I did my undergraduate work at UCLA and despite living my entire life in Southern California, I have acclimated to the Michigan cold and am now ready to try a new clime. As requested, I have posted the responses to Dan's questions. I look forward to June and meeting everyone in person.

  1. What are your main interests? Feel free to include a "pie in the sky" big idea! My main interests principally consider the role of informal social networks within authoritarian regimes and developing countries. Current research seeks to map clientelistic and patronage networks within Middle Eastern autocracies. This work interrogates the relationship between network properties and regime robustness. Additionally, I am interested in employing formal and computational models to explain terrorism, electoral manipulation and factional competition.
  2. What sorts of expertise can you bring to the group? Sadly, my expertise with respect to computational methods is limited to say the least. I do, however, have a strong background in the social sciences, particularly the application of formal modeling and econometrics in political science.
  3. What do you hope to get out of the CSSS? I hope CSSS will provide a comprehensive yet rigorous introduction to the panoply of areas falling under the umbrella of complex systems. Moreover, I want to better acquaint myself with the tools and methods used for the study of complex systems.
  4. Do you have any possible projects in mind for the CSSS? I have several projects that I would like to pursue while at CSSS. Unfortunately, these pursuits will be severely constrained by the availability of data. One potentially feasible project studies the determinants of terrorist participation and recruitment, mapping Islamist networks based on strong ties (e.g. direct familial relations, shared prison or educational experiences) and weak ties (e.g. common ethnic, tribal or sectarian affiliation).