Megan Becker, Ph.D.

University of Southern California

City: Los Angeles, California

Country: United States

About Me:

I am a faculty member in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California (SIR) and the founder and director of the SIR Undergraduate Research Program. I received my PhD in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 2015. I am the 2017 recipient of the Craig L. Brians Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Mentorship, awarded by the American Political Science Association.I also serve as a Co-PI, along with my colleagues Ben Graham and Jonathan Markowitz, of the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab. In the Lab, I direct the research teams on Intervention in Civil Wars and Power Projection in the South China Sea, as well as managing all education and outreach activities. For more information about my research teams, see my SPEC Lab page or visit the main SPEC Lab website. I also direct the (Human) In the Loop Lab at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at UCSD, where we use text-as-data approaches to study issues related to international security.

Research Interests

African Politics

Conflict Processes & War


Research Methods & Research Design

Text as Data

Civil-military Relations

Civil War

Undergraduate Research

Research Methods Pedagogy

My Research:

My main research agenda considers the delegation of security to a variety of actors. For the most part, I study who fights in civil wars, particularly those who fight on the side of the government, but who are not a part of official government military forces.  My interests have led me to study the role of Private Military Companies (PMCs) in African civil wars, but also to think more critically about the fundamental relationships underpinning civil-military relations and national security.