Sara Usher

Sara Usher is a postgraduate student in politics. She previously completed her MA in international studies at Durham University and studied biology, anthropology and psychology as an undergraduate in the United States. Before continuing on with her MA, Sara managed philanthropic services and held various positions within the research and development and clinical trial departments during her employment within the pharmaceutical industry. During her free time she enjoys football, lacrosse and frequent escapes to Holyrood Park.

Her current research interests are interpreting and analyzing irregular warfare from an evolutionary biology perspective and the effect private military contractors have on military personal, defense and security. Specifically, her research aims are to explore how military forces have adapted to both recent and future irregular warfare environments by applying an engineering principle of controlled systems and feedback loops called system dynamics (SD) modeling. SD has most recently been applied to various dynamics  regarding insurgent and non-state actor behavior.  Sara would like to apply this approach  to new questions, including how to improve operational adaptation and how the increasing  use of private military contractors will effect military adaptation. Additionally, she proposes that these models may provide tangible evidence for why NATO forces appear to be winning ground battles, but seem to be unable to win the political war in Afghanistan.


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