Matthew Simonson

Matthew Simonson
PhD Student

As a Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and research assistant on the Covid States project in the Lazer Lab, Matt researches the role of networks in crises and conflict. His dissertation draws upon 10 months of fieldwork in Bosnia, where he investigated how individuals relied on their personal networks for protection, aid, and rescue during the 1992–5 genocide and civil war. To better understand the role cross-ethnic social ties played in saving lives, Matt interviewed 160 Serb, Croat, and Muslims civilians and former soldiers, led the first-ever country-wide survey on cross-group rescue and assistance, and gathered administrative data on intermarriage rates and wartime fatalities. His work is characterized by an intricate synthesis of political science, network analysis, history, sociology, and statistics. Prior fieldwork led Matt to investigate inter-tribal friendship formation in Uganda and linguistic conflict in Cameroon. On the methodological side, his work includes pioneering new approaches in causal approach for measuring peer effects, exploring the impact of road networks on conflict in Africa, and analyzing a natural experiment resulting from a terrorist attack in the United States. Matt’s work has been supported by the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the Brudnick Center for Violence and Conflict, the Post-Conflict Research Centre. In the spring of 2020, he designed and taught a course on data science for social science majors at the New College of the Humanities in London.  

 

A proud native of Washington, DC, Matt majored in math and international studies at Williams College, taught high school math for 7 years, and worked at Seeds of Peace International Camp, bringing together teenagers from conflict regions.  A former college cross country runner, Matt continues to volunteer as a part-time high school coach at his alma mater Georgetown Day School.  He was the winner of the 2019 Unusual Marathon in Sarajevo.

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Current Lab Members

Director

David Lazer
Director

Senior Research Scientist

Jason Radford
Senior Research Scientist
Briony Swire Thompson
Senior Research Scientist

Project Manager

Janette Briceno
Project Manager

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Damian Ruck
Post Doctoral Research Fellow

PhD Student

Stefan McCabe
PhD Student
Ronald Robertson
PhD Student

Lab Alumnus

Navid Dianati
Lab Alumnus
Samuel Fraiberger
Lab Alumnus
Ryan P. Kennedy
Lab Alumnus
Katherine Ognyanova
Lab Alumnus
Rezvan Sherkati
Lab Alumnus
Sarah Shugars
Lab Alumnus
Stefan Wojcik
Lab Alumnus