The Team

Principal Investigators

Valeriya Mechkova is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg, and a Researcher at the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute. Her research focuses on democracy and representation, and she is particularly interested in women’s representation as a group. Valeriya has published scholarly articles in APSR, Democratization, Journal of Democracy, Political Research Quarterly among others. She is currently a team leader on a USAID-funded project to analyze democracy, governance and human rights using the V-Dem data set, and has previously worked as a consultant for the World Bank, Community of Democracies and International IDEA. From 2013 until 2016 she worked as V-Dem’s analyst and data operations manager. Valeriya holds a M.Sc. degree in International Administration and Global Governance from University of Gothenburg.

Dan Pemstein is a comparative political economist and methodologist who studies democratic institutions. Much of his current research examines challenges that digital networks pose to democracy and develops tools to better measure democratic institutions. He also has an ongoing research program that explores the interplay between legislative behavior, political careers, and party organization and have burgeoning interests in the political economy of development and criminal justice policy. He is co-developer of the Unified Democracy Scores, co-author of the Scythe Statistical Library, and Project Manager for Measurement Methods and Steering Committee member for V-Dem. Pemstein is currently a Professor of Political Science & Public Policy at North Dakota State University. He obtained his PhD in Political Science at the University of Illinois, has held research fellowships at Harvard University and Vanderbilt University, and was formerly Croft Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi.

Brigitte Seim is a scholar of comparative politics, focusing on the political economy of development. Her research examines the relationship between citizens and political officials, with a particular emphasis on accountability in developing countries. She is particularly interested in two related but distinct threads of research: one considers how accountability mechanisms can be perverted or disrupted when states are developing politically or economically; and the other considers the methods and data used to study accountability relationships around the world. She obtained her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego in 2014. For the 2014-2015 academic year, she was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow with V-Dem, and she is currently V-Dem’s Project Manager of Experiments. In 2015, Seim joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Policy, Peter Thacher Grauer Scholar, Adjunct Associate Professor of Global Studies, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Political Science.

Steven Wilson is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Brandeis University. He received his doctorate in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. His dissertation, Information and Revolution, explored the effects of the Internet on authoritarian regimes, arguing that while the Internet has made mass mobilization easier than ever, its spread has also allowed savvy authoritarian regimes to become more stable than ever. His research focuses on cybersecurity, the Internet’s various intersections with politics, and comparative democratization, particularly in the former Soviet world. Prior to entering academia, he worked in the software industry at a variety of start-ups and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Leveraging that technical background and research interest in social media, he designed, built, and manages one of the largest social media collections in scholarly hands worldwide, with over 7 billion tweets downloaded and processed into a fully searchable database over the last decade. Wilson served as a research fellow at the V-Dem Institute. His work at V-Dem involved the design and construction of the online expert coding interface, which hosts millions of data points, from experts in every country in the world, in addition to research on patterns of democratization. He continues to serve as Project Manager of Computational Infrastructure for the V-Dem project.

Post-Doctoral Scholars

Yunus Emre Orhan is Research Project Manager for the Digital Society Project, and post-doctoral scholar at North Dakota State University. He comparatively studies democratic backsliding, with a substantive focus on polarization and social networks and a methodological focus on experiments. His dissertation (financed by the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant) develops and empirically assesses a theoretical framework to explain puzzling support for illiberal incumbents, highlighting the micro-level tradeoffs associated with punishing leaders. Much of his current research examines challenges that the internet, globalization, and gender inequality pose to democracy. He has published his work in diverse outlets, including The Washington Post and peer-reviewed Democratization. Orhan obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Project Coordinators

Madison Delorme is a Political Science major at North Dakota State University, interested in variation in political behavior across different US regions and states. Regional managers preparing to send potential participant identifiers to Madison can verify her PGP public key (fingerprint 975B 696D 3D60 EC1D 7C3C E97B 76ED 30AF 4AC4 7683) here.




Maguire Martin is from Bismarck, North Dakota USA and is an undergraduate student at North Dakota State University. He is currently studying economics and political science. His personal research interest is in labor economics. Regional managers preparing to send potential participant identifiers to Maguire can verify his PGP public key (fingerprint E823 543E 6849 BD13 4996  6083 4A0E A047 EB58 B871) here.

Regional Managers

Matías Dodel is Regional Manager for South America and Associate Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, Universidad Católica del Uruguay. He specializes in digital inequalities, e-government, and cyber-safety.



Dmytro Khutkyy is Regional Manager for Eastern Europe and a Research Fellow in Digital Governance at the University of Tartu, Estonia.




Emmanuel C. OGU is Regional Manager for West Africa and an aspiring Tech Diplomat, who is currently a Chartered IT Professional, a trained Computer Scientist, an Advocate for Digital Rights & Freedom, a Cybersecurity Specialist, a Technology Governance & Digital Development Expert, and a Sustainable Development Researcher. He holds a BSc. in Computer Science (Technology), a MSc. in Computer Science (Networking & Telecommunications, and a PhD in Computer Science (Cybersecurity), since 2011, 2014, and 2018, respectively. He has more than 8 years of cumulative experience working at the intersection of Information Technology with Public Policy, Cybersecurity, Sustainable Development, Internet Governance, and Digital Rights.

Irene Poetranto is Regional Manager for South-East Asia and a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Her research interests include Internet governance and the politics of Internet regulation, gender and digital security, and countering terrorism, violent extremism, and hate speech online. She obtained her Master’s degree in Political Science and Asia Pacific Studies from the University of Toronto and Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia.

Janjira Sombatpoonsiri is Regional Manager for South-East Asia and Assistant Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and an Associate at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies. She has extensively researched civil society activism, pro-democracy movements, civic space, and recently digital repression in autocracies. She is the author of Humor and Nonviolent Struggle in Serbia (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2015). Her academic articles appear in several academic journals, including Journal of Peacebuilding & Development, Journal of Civil Society, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. She is a member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Civic Research Network and Digital Democracy Network; a visiting fellow at the Institute of Advance Studies, University of Loughborough; an editorial board member of PROTEST Journal and the Journal of Nonviolence and Pacifism; and a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme Thailand. She was a visiting fellow at the ISEAS Yusof-Ishak (Singapore, 2021-2022), the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (Taiwan, 2020), and the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses (India, 2017).