Principal Investigators


Benjamin Graham


Ben Graham is an assistant professor in the School of International Relations and the resident faculty member in Trojan Hall. His core research is on political risk and foreign investment in emerging markets, focusing particularly on the role of diaspora investors and on the ongoing evolution of international property rights. He also conducts research on federalism, powersharing, and unrecognized states. 

Research Areas:

- Powersharing: Inclusion, Dispersion, and Constraint

- Political Risk and Emerging Markets

- International Political Economy Data Resource


Jonathan Markowitz


Jonathan Markowitz is an assistant professor in the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California. His primary work is on power projection, the political implications of climate change and resource competition. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of California’s Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation. He was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs from 2012-2014 and a post-doctoral fellow at the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College from 2014-2015. He obtained his PhD in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego. 



Megan Becker


Megan Becker is a lecturer in the School of International Relations, where she is also Director of the Undergraduate Research Program. She leads the Lab's teams on International Intervention in Civil Wars and Power Projection in the South China Sea and is responsible for the lab's training, mentoring, and outreach activities. Her research considers the military politics of developing countries, particularly regarding coups, outside military intervention, and the decision to hire private military companies (some people call them mercenaries). She teaches courses on UN Peacekeeping, civil war and other security-related issues. Dr. Becker earned her PhD in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. 


Alix Ziff - Lab Director


Alix Ziff is a PhD candidate in the Political Science & International Relations program at USC. As director of the SPEC Lab, Alix manages 50+ undergraduate research assistants: handling recruitment, advising and the administrative functions of the lab. She and the PIs continue to develop and modify the Lab’s curriculum (including research experience, professionalization, coursework supports and mentorship). Alix is also a doctoral affiliate in the Lab, working with Professor Benjamin A.T. Graham on the Power-sharing project. Alix’s broad research interests include conflict, human rights, migration, power-sharing, governance and public service provision. Her primary research looks at public service provision in conflict-affected areas. She holds an M.A. in African Studies (Stanford University '17), an M.A. in Political Science & International Relations (USC '20)  and B.A. in Political Science & International Relations (UC San Diego '15).