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Katharine received her PhD in Political Science at Northeastern University in 2019, specializing in International Relations. Her research is primarily focused on terrorism and transnational crime in Latin America, Africa, and South Asia. She taught Introduction to International Relations.

Research Interests

Kate’s research is primarily concerned with international security issues, particularly those concerning disruptive non-state organizations (terrorists and transnational organized criminals) and asymmetric conflicts. She is interested in the developing regions of South Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Current projects include an exploration of the tactical and strategic shifts of insurgent forces, written with the USMA Modern War Institute, and dissertation research on the criminal diversification of transnational terrorist organizations.

Work Experience

Kate split her time between teaching Intro to IR and working for the US Department of Justice. She spent summer 2017 interning with the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Previously, Kate worked with the Hudson Institute as a Graduate Research Intern, researching corruption issues and special operations counterterrorism deployments. In San Diego, she worked with the Trans-Border Institute as a researcher, documenting, recording, and coding homicide victims of cartel related violence. She contributed extensively to the Justice in Mexico News Monitor project, writing articles about narco-violence based on Spanish-language Mexican news. Her work can be found here. In addition, Kate wrote commentary on political and security topics for the Toronto-based Freedom Observatory.

Other eclectic employment experiences include supervising the Access Service department of the University of San Diego’s Copley Library, and coaching a wide range of rowing programs. Kate’s first ‘real job’ was working on immigration issues for U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.


Born and raised in Seattle, Kate is an original Seahawks fan. She left rain for sun and sand in 2006, living in San Diego until she made the jump to Northeastern University in 2014.

As an undergraduate at the University of San Diego, Kate graduated with honors, double majoring in Political Science and History, with a Spanish language minor. She was also a four year NCAA Division I varsity athlete, competing as part of the crew team. While serving as captain, she led the squad to historic wins at the San Diego Crew Classic and West Coast Conference. During her MA studies, she returned to the team as a graduate assistant. During her graduate program, Kate actively sought leadership roles, serving the president of the MAIR program, graduate student representative to both the Graduate Student Council and the Graduate Studies Committee, and USD delegation leader to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2011 and 2012.

She currently resides in Boston with her husband, an extraordinarily talented video game developer.


Nicaragua’s Contentious Canal” Freedom Observatory. (February 2014)

Ghana’s New Role: International Law Enforcement Leader” Freedom Observatory. (October 2013)

Exploring the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers” Freedom Observatory. (September 2013)

The Drug Trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan: A Confluence of Criminality and Terror” Freedom Observatory. (August 2013)

Conference Presentations

“Northeastern International Security Working Group.” American Political Science Association, San Francisco, CA (August 2017)

“Global Security Risks, Political Stability, and Firm Responses: Assessing Family Businesses’ Resiliency to Terrorist Activity” – with Dr. Elizabeth Moore, Dr. Luis Dau, and Dr. Max Abrahms.  Association of International Business – Latin America, Lima, Peru (March 2017)

Transnational Organized Crime Working Group, US Army Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, Rockville, Maryland. (April 2016)

“Battling the Hydra: The Role of Special Operations Forces in Countering the Hybridization of Terror.” Presented to Annual Symposium of the Special Operations Research Association, Fort Walton Beach, Florida. (December 2015)

“Maritime Security Cooperation in the Gulf of Aden: An Assessment of the Ongoing International Naval Effort to Combat Somali Piracy.” Presented at the University of San Diego Department of Political Science MAIR Capstone Conference. (May 2013)

“Extremists in Forgotten Corners: Hezbollah in Latin America.” Presented to the International Center for Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Antalya, Turkey. (December 2012)

Degrees Earned and Institutions

BA, University of San Diego (2010)

MA, University of San Diego (2013)

PhD, Northeastern University (2019)

Research Interests

Terrorism; Transnational Crime; Regional focuses on developing states; South Asia, Africa, Latin America

Contact Info
Twitter: @kgpetrich