I received my Ph.D. from the University of South Florida, School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies in Government with a dual concentration in comparative politics and quantitative methods.  I am versed in both frequentist and Bayesian methods using R, Stata, LaTeX, beginning ArcGIS. 


My dissertation tackled the problem of properly quantifying social trust. I created a new multi-level measure using World Values Survey (WVS) data by combining the "generalized trust" question with the "particularized trust" question to create a more dynamic measure that better reflects the true nature of how humans trust. The new measure has three levels:  Generalized, Particularized and a new "Other" level.  A Bayesian HLM tested how different levels of trust impact democratic support in five nations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former USSR, controlling for country-level trust in institutions, across waves 5 & 6. It was discovered, contrary to previous research, particularized trust can have positive impacts on democratic support. My research also suggests "trust in institutions" does not have a negative impact on social trust at the individual level in the post-Communist sphere, contrary to current thought.


My current research will expand on my dissertation; I am interested in properly quantifying social trust beyond the borders of the former USSR. As such, testing the generalizability of the new measure in all nations of the WVS will follow.   

I am also interested in Chechnya and relations between the state and its people, as well as the spread of Wahhabism in the region, and its relation to global jihadist ideologies vs. ethnic nationalism.


I've interned for Former Senator Bob Graham (D-FL) and The United Nations, Department of Political Affairs. I completed field research and language training in Moscow, Russia. I am also a former United States Marine. 


I was a panel participant in the United Nations Association: UN Millennium Development Goals 2013 in Tampa.  I have been a peer-reviewer for the American Journal of Political Science and Political Behavior.  I am also a contributing author to The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality.

I also have some public scholarship in Foreign Policy, WaPo's The Monkey Cage, & The Globe Post.

While in Rochester, I was a Visiting Ph.D. Student Scholar at the University of Rochester. 


I'm also a wife to a journalist and a mom to two kids and an English Bulldog and pot-bellied pig. 

Because of my husband's job, we've moved around a lot, particularly during my Ph.D. work.  From Milwaukee to Tampa, to Rochester, NY, and now back to Tampa. 


I love cooking, hiking, Christmas in Boston, Russian Winters, and Fall in Western New York.

follow me on Twitter: @ford_nik

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Social Trust

Using the multi-level variable I created, I am particularly interested in how trust can impact institutional trust and democratic support.


University of South Florida

Ph.D., Comparative Politics/Quantitative Methods.

Dissertation Chair: Darrell Slider, Ph.D.

Social Movements and the Internet. 

Interested in how social media can be utilized to create new bonds of trust, mobilize movements and spur political action.

The North Caucasus

I am especially interested in the tensions between Chechen national identity and Russian federal authority. 


University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee

Ph.D.  Comparative Politics/ Quantitative Methods.

(transfer due to Husband's work)

Advisor: Dave Armstrong, Ph.D.


Marquette University

Graduate Certificate, Education.