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Danielle Gilbert

Assistant Professor


Research Interest(s): Political violence, international security, hostage taking and recovery, civil war, terrorism, negotiations

Program Area(s): International Relations; Comparative Politics

Subfield Specialties: Conflict Studies


Dani Gilbert is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. Her research explores the causes and consequences of hostage taking in international security including projects on rebel kidnapping, hostage recovery policy, and hostage diplomacy. Her current book project examines why and how armed groups kidnap during civil war. It is based on her PhD dissertation, which received the American Political Science Association’s 2021 Merze Tate Award for the Best Dissertation in International Relations, Law, and Politics. Gilbert’s scholarship has been published in the American Political Science Review, International Studies Perspectives, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Terrorism & Political Violence, the Texas National Security Review, and the Journal of Political Science Education.

In 2023, Professor Gilbert was selected to serve on the Bipartisan Commission on Hostage Taking and Wrongful Detention at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. Gilbert frequently writes public commentary in outlets like Foreign Affairs, the Washington Post, USA Today, War on the Rocks, and Lawfare and has been interviewed by outlets including ABC, the BBC, CNN, ESPN, NBC, NPR, and The New York Times. She has advised the British, Canadian, and U.S. governments on hostage recovery policy and spoken about her research at the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Before joining the faculty at Northwestern, Professor Gilbert was the Edelson Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College; an Assistant Professor of Military & Strategic Studies at the United States Air Force Academy; and a Minerva-Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar at the United States Institute of Peace. Before beginning her doctoral work, she served four years on Capitol Hill, including as a Senior Legislative Assistant and Appropriations Associate; she also worked as a policy advisor on presidential and congressional campaigns. Gilbert received her PhD in Political Science from the George Washington University, where she also served as a pre-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Security and Conflict Studies. Gilbert received an MSc from the London School of Economics and her BA in Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale.

Select Publications

Public Engagement


  • Honorable Mention, Alexander L. George Article Award for the best article applying qualitative methods, American Political Science Association QMMR section (2023)
  • Civilian of the Quarter, U.S. Air Force Academy Social Sciences (2022)
  • Merze Tate Award for the Best Dissertation in International Relations, Law, and Politics, American Political Science Association (2021)
  • Semi-finalist, Janne Nolan Prize for the Best Article on National/ International Affairs (2021)
  • Best Independent Instructor in Political Science, George Washington University (2019)
  • "New Faces" in International Security, Triangle Institute for Security Studies (2019)"