• Department of Political Science


    International Security &
    Political Communication

    CV (.pdf)
  • Department of Political Science


    International Security &
    Political Communication

    CV (.pdf)




I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, and the Herb York Fellow at the Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation.

My primary research agenda examines how actors influence the likelihood of international or civil war by sharing or withholding information about their military capabilities. In a series of projects, I study how leaders temper domestic support for war without signaling weakness to foreign adversaries, why countries sometimes attempt to conceal rather than advertise their military strength to hostile rivals, how powerful countries motivate weaker proxies to cooperate on security policy, and how the threat of civil violence can deter governments from predating upon their citizens.

Other branches of my research explore how actors strategically share and frame information in order to sculpt public opinion. In one project I show that journalists adjust the tone and content of their questions in accordance with the gender and political affiliation of the person they interview. In another paper, I provide evidence that American politicians attempt to claim political credit by renaming rather than terminating unpopular federal agencies. A third project evaluates how the spread of information can motivate society members to abandon long-held social norms. Finally, before joining U.C. San Diego I worked as the debate coach in the Department of Rhetoric and Media Studies at Lewis & Clark College. As such, some of my early research relates to argumentation theory and communication pedagogy.

If you have questions or wish to contact me, please email bmerrell@ucsd.edu.


University of California, San Diego

  • Ph.D., Political Science (in progress)
    • Committee: David Lake (co-chair), Branislav Slantchev (co-chair),
        Eli Berman, Lauren Prather, Phil Roeder
  • M.A., Political Science (2015)

Southern Illinois University

  • B.A., Economics and Political Science (2011)

Western Kentucky University

  • Undergraduate (2007-2009)

Academic Positions

Lewis & Clark College

  • Debate Coach, Rhetoric and Media Studies (2011-2012)



Refereed Articles

"Debate across the Disciplines: Structured Classroom Debates in Interdisciplinary Curricula"

  • with Kevin Calderwood and Todd Graham
  • Contemporary Argumentation and Debate Vol. 37, pp. 57-74, 2017.

"Back to its Roots: Accuracy as the Litmus Test for Topicality"

  • with Todd Graham
  • Parliamentary Debate, Vol 13, No. 2, pp. 21-68, November 2016.

"Contrasting Structures, Conditional Strategies: Designing Format-Specific Theories for Competitive Debate"

  • with Todd Graham
  • Parliamentary Debate, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 1-37, May 2016.

"The Intersection of Competitions and Classrooms in Forensics Pedagogy"

  • with Kevin Calderwood and Richard Flores
  • Communication Studies, Vol. 66, No. 4, pp. 433-47, August 2015.


"Denmark, 1940-1945: Armed Resistance and Agency Slippage in Germany's Model Protectorate"

  • in Proxy Wars: Suppressing Transnational Violence through Local Agents,
  • edited by Eli Berman and David Lake. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, Accepted.


"Illegal Wildlife Trafficking - The Unseen Environmental Harms"

  • with Thomas Schally
  • in Up for Debate: U.S. Foreign Policy Options Towards the Greater Horn of Africa,
  • edited by Danny Cantrell and Brandy Brickey, pp. 1-24. La Mirada, CA: Picket Fence, 2009.

In Progress

Conference Papers or Work Under Review

"The Vetoed Peace"

    • ISA Annual Convention (2018)

"The War Referendum"

    • APSA Annual Meeting (2016)

"The Secrecy Gambit: Clandestine Power Shifts and Preventive Conflict"

  • with Alexei Abrahams
    • APSA Annual Meeting (2018)
    • SPSA Annual Meeting (2018)
    • APSA Annual Meeting (2017)

"Media Bias in Presidential Press Questions"

  • with Kevin Calderwood
    • ICA Annual Conference (2018)
    • SPSA Annual Meeting (2018)
    • APSA Annual Meeting (2017)

"Renaming and Credit Claiming in Federal Agencies"

  • with Richard Flores
    • MPSA Annual Meeting (2018)
    • APSA Annual Meeting (2017)

"Unprogrammed Abandonment of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting"

  • with Brian Engelsma and Gerry Mackie

Brandon Merrell - CV

Click below for a .pdf version.


International Relations, American Politics, and Methods


Analyzing Politics
Applied Data Analysis for Political Science
Crisis Areas in World Politics (x2)
International Crisis Diplomacy
Introduction to American Politics
Mathematical and Statistical Foundations (graduate, x2)


Discussion Sections:

  • International Politics & Security (graduate)
  • Introduction to International Relations (x3)

Research Advising:

  • Frontiers of Political Science (senior honors seminar, x2)
  • Policy Responses to Global Problems (graduate research capstone)
  • Political Science Research Apprenticeship Program
  • Postwar Politics in Japan (graduate)


East Asian Thought (x2)
Insurgency and Terrorism
Politics and Warfare
Supreme Court & Constitution
United States Foreign Policy
War and Society (x2)
Weapons of Mass Destruction


Email Preferred


Brandon Merrell
University of California, San Diego
Department of Political Science
Social Sciences Building 301
9500 Gilman Drive, 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521

Email & Other

Email: bmerrell@ucsd.edu
Homepage: www.brandonmerrell.com
Office: Social Science Building 341