The Team

Valeriya Mechkova is a Researcher at the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, and PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. Her dissertation examines the conditions under which descriptive representation works for achieving substantive representation using the case of women’s political empowerment and development outcomes women tend to prioritize. Valeriya has published scholarly articles in 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 specializes in measurement and builds statistical tools to answer substantive questions about political institutions, focusing particularly on political careers, party organisation, digital politics, and the political economy of development. He is the Project Manager for Measurement Methods and a Steering Committee member for the Varieties of Democracy Project. He is also a co-developer of the Unified Democracy Scores and Scythe Statistical Library. Pemstein is currently an Associate Professor 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 in sub-Saharan Africa. She is particularly interested in two related but distinct threads of research: one considers how accountability mechanisms can be perverted or disrupted when institutions are weak or states are developing; and the other considers the methods and data used to study accountability relationships around the world. To conduct this research, she partners with government institutions, international organizations, and policy makers, as well as other academics. Methodologically, she utilizes various tools in her work, including interviews, text analysis, observational data, and experiments (RCTs, lab-in-the-field, conjoint, and behavioral experiments). 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 the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. In 2015, she joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Policy, Peter Thacher Grauer Fellow, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Global Studies, and Adjunct Assistant 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.