Sarah Moore (she/her)
PhD Candidate in Political Science, MS Candidate in Statistics
How would you describe your research and/or work to a non-academic audience?
My research is dual-faceted. On one side, I am a problem solver. I am interested in developing ways and methods to study social and political behavior where existing data is scarce or politicized, or there are limited resources to obtain such data. I do research primarily in the Global South, where fine-grained data might not be as widely available to scholars and policy-experts as in other contexts. It also may be prohibitively expensive and time intensive in some cases to collect data. This means some questions might be unapproachable. My methodological work focuses on how to mitigate data accessibility concerns on the part of researchers. I'm working to create research frameworks to think critically about these data problems and how pairing various methods together might help overcome the shortcomings of limited data.
On the other side, I am interested in how individuals and communities are impacted by violence and how political behavior looks after sustained wartime experiences. I apply this to the study of armed conflict in Colombia, a country that has experienced a long protracted internal conflict. Within that conflict, many people have been forcibly displaced and lost land and possessions, among many other forms of victimization. I try to understand how victims of this conflict relate to formal and informal political organizations and how they think about the accessibility of power. I also am trying to understand how communities help to protect and support each other with material assistance in the wake of community violence.
Whom do you admire in your field and otherwise, and why?
I admire all the women that came before me and work alongside me in armed conflict research. While I am nowadays mostly writing about methodology, my work is all substantively focused on conflict and post-conflict contexts. I am thankful and humbled to follow the work of my advisers, friends, and colleagues that are women doing work in conflict or post-conflict zones. Among them are mothers, survivors, or first-generation scholars, on top of being great scholars and incredible people. One person in particular has made a lasting impact on me, Kendra Koivu. She was my undergrad thesis adviser and a PhD alumna of Northwestern University. She was encouraging about a research career, but also the first person to be very honest with me about the struggles of academia. Unfortunately, Kendra passed away a few years ago after battling cancer. I think about her a lot; she was the first person in her family to go to college and a single mother during grad school. She did fieldwork around the world as her family grew and was an emerging scholar in qualitative methods. She was a really accessible and welcoming person in our field, and I am grateful to have had her guidance.
What is the biggest potential impact or implication of your work?
My hope is that my work makes it easier for people from different methodological backgrounds to collaborate. I have a couple of pieces in progress that are motivated by the desire to bridge seemingly disparate methods toward common ends. There is a big push right now in a lot of social science disciplines for multi-method work. It's not always clear how people can merge and collaborate, for example, traditional fieldwork and qualitative methods with more on-trend computational stuff. I hope that my work makes these connections a little clearer.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I have been weightlifting for five years now, and more recently going to Brazilian jiu jitsu. These are sure ways for me to chill out. But most importantly, I have my dogs and my partner. My home and my family are my peace.
What books are on your bedside table?
I have a few and I am terrible at reading any of them with any regularity. One that I hope to read next is En Sus Zapatos de Barro by Rocío del Pilar Moreno Sánchez. It's a book following 6 people of the rural working class in Colombia who participated in this socioeconomic alleviation program. I think I'll spend the next few days digging in.
How would your closest friends describe you?
I asked my partner, Alex, this recently. He said sincere. Others have said I am a "meme queen." I like to think I embody both of these things.
What did you originally want to be when you grew up?
An anesthesiologist. Why? Who knows. Also, a Jeopardy! contestant. The latter is still true.
Tell us about a current achievement or something you're working on that excites you.
Well, I am currently doing fieldwork in Colombia carrying out a project that was really supposed to take place between 2019-2020. It's a relief to finally be carrying out this project. So far, I have traveled to a variety of places across the country and talked with people about how the armed conflict in Colombia has impacted their community and the quality of local politics. I have heard a lot of interesting, but difficult stories. I am really grateful that people are willing to share their stories with me.
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