Frontlines Lab

Frontlines Lab, a dynamic modeling capability for civilian harm

Frontlines Lab is a research enterprise program focused on deploying science and technology to support sustainable solutions to conflict and crisis. The Lab is a joint initiative of New America and Arizona State University that works on a consortium-based model for working with practitioners and policymakers to tackle the enormous challenges common in conflict and crisis settings. The consortium currently includes partnerships with Drexel University and PAX. The advisory council for the Lab’s Advancing Frontline Foreseeability consortium project includes Sarah Holewinski, Marla Keenan, Mira Olson, Candace Rondeaux, and Wilbert van der Zeijden (bios below).

We created the Frontlines Lab to advise on and conduct evidence-based research on behalf of NGO and civil society partners and lead experiential education in the practice of conflict and crisis mitigation and management. The Lab advances an integrated approach to research and systems analysis, digital forensics, computer modeling, and digital technology design. We are dedicated to preventing and reducing the impact of violent conflict on civilians and civilian infrastructure through education and research that integrates innovative technologies, practices, and policies.

Project Advisors

Sarah Holewinski is the Washington Director at Human Rights Watch. She leads the organization’s engagement with the United States government on global human rights issues, focusing on national security and foreign policy. Prior, she was the first senior advisor on human rights in the Chairman’s Office at The Joint Staff of the U.S. Department of Defense. She served as deputy chief of staff for policy at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations under Ambassador Samantha Power. For nearly a decade, Sarah was executive director of Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), leading efforts to advise warring parties on civilian protection and responsible use of force. In that role, she worked extensively with the U.S. military and its allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, CAR, Burma, and elsewhere.
Marla B. Keenan is an International Security Program Senior Fellow at New America, working to strengthen partnerships between NGOs and academic institutions on applied research in armed conflict. She is also a senior advisor to PAX and a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Center. Her areas of expertise are international security, including human rights in armed conflict, protection of civilians, civilian harm tracking and analysis, and civil-military relations in armed conflict. Previously Marla was senior director of policy and advocacy and previously senior director of programs at Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC). She holds a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management with a double concentration in policy analysis and international policy from the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy & Management at Carnegie Mellon University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at the University of Arizona. 
Dr. Mira Olson is an Associate Professor in the Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering Department at Drexel University.  She holds a B.S in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Environmental Sciences and Engineering from Rice University and an M.E. and Ph.D. in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from the University of Virginia.  Her research’s broad focus is on protecting source water quality, with current interests in transboundary water management and community-based research design. Dr. Olson is an editor of the International Journal of Engineering, Social Justice and Peace and has served as faculty fellow in Drexel’s Office of University and Community Partnerships. She is a co-founder and Director of the newly established Peace Engineering program at Drexel.
Candace Rondeaux is a Professor of Practice in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University and a Senior Fellow with the Center on the Future of War, a joint initiative of ASU and New America. An expert on international security affairs, she has previously served as a senior program officer at U.S. Institute of Peace where she launched the RESOLVE Network, a global research consortium on conflict and violent extremism and as a strategic advisor to the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. She spent five years living and working in South Asia where she served as senior analyst in Afghanistan for the International Crisis Group and as South Asia bureau chief for The Washington Post in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her research interests include the dynamics of conflict and sectarian violence, transparency and accountability in governance, political Islam in modern Muslim majority states, Russian and post-Soviet affairs. In addition to the Post, her work has been featured in Lawfare, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Russia Journal and The Village Voice. She has also been a frequent guest analyst on CNN, Al-Jazeera, BBC World and National Public Radio. Prior to her postings in South Asia, she produced award winning journalism on criminal justice and legal affairs, contributing to Post’s Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre, coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the Terri Schiavo case for The St. Petersburg Times in Florida, and the 9/11 attacks in New York for the investigative team at The New York Daily News. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she holds a B.A. in Russian Area Studies, M.A. Journalism from New York University, and an MPP in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Wilbert van der Zeijden is team coordinator Protection of Civilians and Project lead Protection in Practice at PAX. He’s an international relations specialist and a graduate of the Vrije University in Amsterdam. Previously he coordinated the ‘Militarism and Globalisation’ program at the Transnational Institute (2001-2009) and he was senior researcher in the Humanitarian Disarmament team of PAX (2010-2015). His current focus within the PoC team includes the international developments in PoC policy making and implementation, civilian harm and European security.

The below paper is currently in peer review, if you would like to submit comments or questions, please contact marla@marlakeenan.com.

BEYOND CASUALTY COUNTS: Building Dynamic Models to Capture and Foresee Civilian Harm


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