Dr. Jessica Piombo is an associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), where she teaches courses on African politics, U.S. foreign policy, comparative politics, and ethnic politics and conflicts. Her teaching and research focus on political transitions, transitional regimes, and post-conflict governance; institutional ways to channel and shape political identities; mechanisms to manage ethnic conflict; U.S. foreign policy towards Africa; the U.S. military’s role in reconstruction and stabilization; and international peace negotiations in Africa. In 2012, she was on sabbatical to research how styles of international mediation influence the substance of peace negotiations in South Africa and Burundi.
In 2013, together with three colleagues Piombo won a Minerva Award to conduct a study examining the relationship between state-building and peace-building through the lens of public service delivery at the subnational level in Cambodia, Laos, and Uganda. In 2015, they added Rwanda and research will continue through the end of 2017. Currently the team is writing a book manuscript from the research.
Piombo won a second Minerva award in 2017 together with Pierre Engelbert, Pomona College. This project, titled "All Intervention is Local," explores how domestic political dynamics shape international interventions to build states and state capacity, focusing on African case studies. The project is in its initial stages and fieldwork will begin in 2019.
Prior to joining NPS, Piombo completed her Ph.D. at the Department of Political Science of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her dissertation and early work focused on South African politics and elections. She has been a visiting scholar at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, the University of the Western Cape (Department of Political Studies), the University of Cape Town (in the Centre for Social Science Research and the African Studies Centre), and at the Center for African Studies at Stanford University.