Melissa Carlson is currently a postdoctoral fellow for the Middle East Initiative at the Center for International Security and Cooperation. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in international relations, comparative politics, and methodology. Melissa's primary research examines the factors that influence the variation and intensity of partnerships between governments and foreign militant groups with a focus on the recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Her book-style dissertation project finds that, when foreign militant groups and state armed forces share similar organizational characteristics, they are more likely to deploy forces to conduct joint combat operations and provide each other with advanced weapons systems. In other research, Melissa examines the factors that influence informal and secret security cooperation between states and how misinformation and rumors influence refugees' relationships with host governments, service providers, and smugglers. Her research has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Review of International Organizations, and International Studies Quarterly, among other outlets. Outside of academia, Melissa has worked as a consultant for the International Organization for Migration's Iraq and Jordan Missions.