Mikaela Karstens Twitter

Mikaela Karstens
209 Pond Laboratory

Curriculum Vitae

View CV Website


  1. Ph.D Candidate, Political Science – Penn State University, 2022 (expected)
  2. M.A. Political Science – Penn State University, 2018
  3. B.A. Political Science - University of Minnesota, 2016, Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa


Mikaela Karstens is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University. She previously studied at the University of Minnesota where she received my B.A. in Political Science in 2014. She received her M.A. in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University in May of 2018 with primary fields of International Relations and Political Methodology. She is affiliated with the Penn State Center for Social Data Analytics (C-SoDA) and formerly served as the C-SoDA Predoctoral Research Associate for 2019/20.

Her research focuses on the ways through which state and non-state actors attempt to build power and influence through nation-building activities and strategic political violence. In her dissertation, she explores how states can achieve these goals through a portfolio of violent and non-violent repressive strategies, with particular focus on substitutability. She explores this within the context of territorial contenders. To study this quantitatively she is currently working on coding a new dataset which identifies holistic traits of state repressive strategies. This expands upon the work of state formation, repression, nationalism, and nation-building scholars to explain state repressive strategy selection.

She is currently involved in a number of research projects in addition to her dissertation work. These include work on rebel group emergence, state making strategies, and general theories of state-perpetrated mass atrocities. Her previous work as foreman for the MID 5 data set (project website) can be found published in CMPS.


Unpacking the Repressive Toolbox: State Violent and Nonviolent Repressive Strategy Selection

Dissertation Chair(s):

Douglas Lemke

Research Interests:

Nation Building; Ethnic Conflict; Strategic Political Violence; Mass Killing