Assistant (Teaching) Professor of International Relations

Director of the USC School of International Relations’ Undergraduate Research Program

University of Southern California

Megan Becker is an Assistant (Teaching) Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California (USC), where she is a PI in the Security and Political Economy (SPEC) Lab and the Founder and Director of the USC School of International Relations’ Undergraduate Research Program. In addition to substantive courses on civil war, security studies, and conflict resolution, Megan teaches undergraduate introductory methods courses and an upper-division course in research skills. She emphasizes research transparency and reproducible practices in her teaching and activities with student researchers. Her pedagogical research interests include: the impact of mentoring undergraduate researchers, pedagogical practices for diversity and inclusion, promoting data literacy in the classroom, and using online tools to promote student learning. Her work on undergraduate research and research methods pedagogy has been published in PS: Political Science and Politics and the Journal of Political Science Education and presented at a variety of regional, national, and international conferences. A current project is the creation of Replication Lab, a vehicle for working with undergraduate students on both quantitative and qualitative research replication. She presented her team’s first project on qualitative replication at the 2018 meeting of the Berkeley Institute for Transparency in the Social Sciences. A video of the presentation can be found here:

Megan is a first-generation college student and holds degrees from the Pennsylvania State University (BA, International Politics) and the University of California, San Diego (MA, PhD, Political Science).


Megan will develop a series of Jupyter notebook templates that can be used for teaching data management, analysis, and visualization, while also placing an emphasis on transparency. The Jupyter notebooks will align with a series of model assignments that can be used by other faculty as a ‘soup-to-nuts’ module in their courses. The assignments will utilize the World Economics and Politics Dataverse, an online compendium of data compiled and maintained by the SPEC Lab and hosted by the Niehaus Center for Globalization at Princeton ( The WEPD was put together by a team of undergraduate researchers in the SPEC Lab and is already serving as an important clearing-house for data used by researchers across the social sciences.

The topic for the soup-to-nuts module will be “Implications of Political Institutions.” The assignments will walk students through the conceptualization of political institutions and how they are measured/categorized, determining a hypothesized relationship between political institutions and an outcome related to security or economics (war, human rights abuses, trade, development), inputting data and doing some basic OLS regression, and visualizing the data in an appropriate manner.