Dr Sara Polo

Department of Government
Dr Sara Polo
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 876347

  • Location

    5A.135, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    Friday 13:30-15:30 (on Zoom)



Sara Polo is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Government at the University of Essex. Her research focuses on the causes, diffusion, and targets of terrorism and on the the determinants and dynamics of violent and nonviolent conflict. Her current projects examine why groups use terrorism in civil war, the sub-national and cross-national diffusion of terrorist tactics, the migration-terrorism nexus, the unintended consequences of peacekeeping operations, and gender-based violence in conflict and post-conflict settings. Sara was previously an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Rice University in Houston, Texas.


  • PhD in Government University of Essex, (2015)

  • MSc in International Relations University of Essex, (2010)


University of Essex

  • Lecturer, Government, University of Essex (1/1/2019 - present)

Other academic

  • Assistant Professor, Political Science, Rice University (1/7/2015 - 31/12/2018)

Research and professional activities

Research interests


Key words: Terrorism

Civil Conflict

Key words: Civil Conflict

Political Violence

Key words: Political Violence

Spatial Analysis of Conflict

Key words: Spatial Analysis of Conflict


Key words: Peacekeeping

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • State Fragility, State Building and Conflict (GV537)

  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism (GV925)


Journal articles (8)

Polo, SMT. and Wucherpfennig, J., Trojan Horse, Copycat, or Scapegoat? Unpacking the Refugees-Terrorism Nexus. The Journal of Politics

Hinkkainen Elliott, K., Polo, SMT. and Reyes, L., (2021). Making Peace or Preventing It? UN Peacekeeping, Terrorism and Civil War Negotiations. International Studies Quarterly. Online (1), 29-42

Polo, SMT., (2020). The Quality of Terrorist Violence: Explaining the Logic of Terrorist Target Choice. Journal of Peace Research. 57 (2), 235-250

Polo, SMT. and Gonzalez, B., (2020). The Power to Resist: Mobilization and the Logic of Terrorist Attacks in Civil War. Comparative Political Studies. 53 (13), 2029-2060

Polo, SMT., (2020). A Pandemic of Violence? The Impact of COVID-19 on Conflict. Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy. 0 (0)

Polo, SMT., (2020). How Terrorism Spreads: Emulation and the Diffusion of Ethnic and Ethnoreligious Terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 64 (10), 1916-1942

Polo, SMT. and Gleditsch, KS., (2016). Twisting arms and sending messages: Terrorist tactics in civil war. Journal of Peace Research. 53 (6), 815-829

Gleditsch, KS. and Polo, SMT., (2016). Ethnic inclusion, democracy, and terrorism. Public Choice. 169 (3-4), 207-229

Book chapters (1)

Gleditsch, KS., Beardsley, K. and Polo, SMT., (2017). Issues in Data Collection: International Conflict. In: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of International Studies

Grants and funding


Public Violence Against Women in Mexico

University of Essex (GCRF)

+44 (0) 1206 876347


5A.135, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Friday 13:30-15:30 (on Zoom)