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Mikaela Karstens
209 Pond Laboratory

Curriculum Vitae

View CV Website


  1. Ph.D Candidate, Political Science – Penn State University, 2021 (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.

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 . This expands upon the work of state formation, ethnic conflict, nationalism, and nation-building scholars to explain the portfolio of violent and non-violent strategies utilized by states for the purposes of nation-building.

She is currently involved in a number of research projects including the coding of the MID 5 data set, the relationship between foreign direct investment and violence against civilians, violent state behavior when facing territorial contenders, and general theories of state perpetrated mass killing. 


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