Director and Lead Scientist of the Strategic Influence Initiative
8400 Baltimore Ave., Suite 250, College Park, MD 20740
Dr. Tony Rivera is the Director and Lead Scientist of the Strategic Influence Initiative at START. He is the PI for a Minerva Initiative grant that examines the resilience of influence communities. He is also the architect and designer of Project Hermes 2.0, a computational security studies toolkit that combines social network, natural language, and geospatial analysis to model and experiment with strategic influence. Dr. Rivera is also an expert on Iran’s grand strategy and decision making. His theoretical foundation in complex adaptive systems and phenomenology provide a robust framework for analyzing influence communities and measuring the influence of state and non-state actors on these communities, which speaks directly to such vital issues as recruitment and radicalization by violent extremist organizations, state-sponsored misinformation campaigns, and influence campaigns as grand strategy. Prior to coming to START, Dr. Rivera was a visiting assistant professor at Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute, a Strategic Advisor to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and a Core Research Fellow with the Triangle Institute for Security Studies. He is the founder and director of the Laboratory for Unconventional Conflict Analysis and Simulation (LUCAS), a computational security studies lab.
Dr. Rivera received his degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Delaware. His dissertation, The Complexity of Iranian Foreign Policy: the politics of fear, interest, and honor utilizes complex adaptive systems and phenomenological theoretical approaches along with computational and interpretive methodologies. From 2010 to 2015, Dr. Rivera was a researcher at the University of Chicago’s Computation Institute, where he provided subject matter expertise on Iranian grand strategy and security policy for agent-based modeling. His work at the Computation Institute also included modeling the sovereignty disputes in the South and East China Seas. From the fall of 2009 until spring of 2012 Dr. Rivera served as managing editor of the International Studies Association’s Compendium project.
He is available to give talks on Iran’s nuclear program, strategic decision-making, and the future of Iran’s role after the JCPOA (the nuclear deal). He also has talks prepared on Iranian-US relations, Iranian-Saudi relations, and more general topics on the Middle East, including the Future of Kurdistan. He can give talks and tutorials on computational methods such as agent-based modeling, social network analysis, and the essential tasks of combining qualitative and computational methods.
- University of Delaware, Political Science and International Relations, Ph.D., 2013
- Minerva Initiative, 2015 - 2018
- IAI STTR subcontract Army Research Office, 2016 - 2017
- University Graduate Fellow, 2011 - 2012
- University Graduate Scholars, 2009 - 2010
- NSF Grant, APSA Workshop on Interpretive Methodologies in Political Science, 2009
- Principal Investigator, Duke University Social Science Research Institute, 2015 - Present
- Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Chicago, 2010 - 2013