IDSS is a research group of faculty and graduate students at UCLA whose research focuses on answering causal (“why”) research questions using credible research designs. The four faculty leaders are:

Graeme Blair Assistant Professor of Political Science. website; email

Graeme is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at UCLA. Previously, he was a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia and EGAP. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Princeton. Graeme studies comparative politics with a focus on West Africa as well as experimental methodology. His book project asks why groups living near valuable assets like oil fields are often able to force the state to make policy concessions and fiscal transfers. It is based on nine months of fieldwork in Nigeria, and was supported by a NSF Dissertation Improvement Grant and the International Growth Centre. Graeme also studies why civilians support armed groups through survey research in Afghanistan, Mexico, Nigeria, and Pakistan, and he has developed new experimental methods for sensitive survey questions. His work appears in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and Political Analysis, and won the 2013 Pi Sigma Alpha Award for best paper at MPSA.

Darin Christensen Assistant Professor of Public Policy. website; email

Darin is an assistant professor of Public Policy. He received his Ph.D. in political science and M.A. in economics from Stanford University. He studies the political economy of conflict and development, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. One strand of research focuses on the logic of protest and repression: what motivates people to protest, what technologies enable this collective action, and when do governments repress demonstrations? A second strand considers the political determinants and consequences of investments in mining and agribusiness in developing states. He has consulted on evaluations of USAID and World Bank projects. B.A. political science and German, Duke University.

Erin Hartman Assistant Professor of Political Science and Statistics. website; email

Erin is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and Political Science at UCLA. Her recent research focuses on creating new methods–including both theoretical approaches and new estimation strategies–for identifying and validating causal effects. She also studies survey design methodologies, including a new survey sampling method that reduces reliance on post hoc weighting methods and alleviate non-response bias, and an automated raking methodology that selects the optimal auxiliary vector on which to weight. In 2012, Erin ran the polling operation for Obama for America’s Analytics department, which very accurately predicted election outcomes in the campaign’s battleground states. She also co-founded a successful analytics and technology start-up, BlueLabs, focused on providing analytics services to clients in politics, issues advocacy, healthcare, and education. Erin holds a PhD in Political Science and an MA in Statistics from UC Berkeley.

Chad Hazlett Assistant Professor of Political Science and Statistics. website; email

Chad completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014. His dissertation in the subfields of Political Methodology and International Relations was entitled “Inference in Tough Places: Essays on Modeling, Matching, and Measurement with Applications to Civil Conflict.” Prof. Hazlett previously served as a predoctoral fellow in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. His interests include machine learning, developing and extending approaches to causal inference, and using these tools to study civil war and mass violence.