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I am the Founding Director of the Center for Governance and Markets and a Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Outside of Pitt, I serve as a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a distinguished scholar of peace and international order at the Institute for Humane Studies, and a contributing editor at National Interest magazine. I have been recognized as one of the world's top thinkers by Prospect Magazine. At the University of Pittsburgh, I have received the Donald Goldstein Professor of the Year Award and the Sheth Distinguished Faculty Award for International Achievement

My research focuses on self-governance, security, political economy, and public sector reform, with a geographic emphasis on Eurasia, Central Eurasia, and South Asia.

My first book, Informal Order and the State in Afghanistan (Cambridge University Press), received the Best Book Award in Social Sciences from the Central Eurasian Studies Society and an honorable mention from the International Development Section of the International Studies Association. My second book, Land, the State, and War: Property Institutions and Political Order in Afghanistan (with Ilia Murtazashvili), was published by Cambridge University Press. I have also published two more books on the political economy of development.

In the policy world, I have served as a democracy and governance officer for the United States Agency for International Development in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and worked as a senior researcher for the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit in Kabul. Other policy work includes service for the World Bank, the US Department of Defense, the United Nations Development Program, UNICEF, and as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Currently, I am a member of the executive board of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies, a board member at the Collins Institute for Abrahamic Heritage, and a member of PONARS Eurasia. Previously, I was a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Eurasia Center. I have also served as the president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society and was an elected board member of the Section for International and Comparative Public Administration of the American Society of Public Administration.