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Minerva Project : WhoWeAre

​​Who We Are

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Research and Development at West Point is a growing asset. It provides context to the classroom; is central to a vibrant and current faculty; and is one way West Point connects to the Army and the Nation. Our students are driven, our faculty is world-class, and the Army applies that combination to its hardest problems. West Point?s faculty also partner with forward deployed units, DoD research organizations, academia and industry to do research on real world problems and bring difficult projects to the classroom. Members from the IID participate and support in the Minerva Research Initiative here at West Point. 

COL John Graham, Associate Dean for Research 
Mr. John Willis, Director of Research Operations 
Ms. Lesley Beckstrom, Research Administrative Officer 
Ms. Diana Matautia, Administrative Assistant 
Mr. Patrick Gill, Instructional/Information Technology Manager 

The Network Science Center brings together service members, civilians, and cadets to research and develop significant contributions in the study of network representations of physical, biological, and social phenomena leading to predictive models. The NSC is a thought-leader in this emerging discipline and addresses Army-specific and related Network Science challenges. The NSC also provides relevant educational opportunities for current and future Army leaders. The NSC is inherently interdisciplinary, leveraging a wide range of USMA academic departments, research centers, and disciplinary experts with close ties to military and civilian research centers. This interdisciplinary spirit is the backbone of the Minerva Research Initiative at West Point. Members from the NSC provide research support and collaboration for the Minerva projects. 

COL John Graham, Director and Chief Scientist 
Mr. Dan Evans, Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Chris Arney, Network Science Center Chair 
Mr. John James, Senior Research Fellow 
COL Kevin Huggins, Director of Research for Network Science 
Ms. Tish Torgerson, Executive Officer 
Ms. Lori Sheetz, Education Research and Project Support

Minerva Fellows

Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

Dr. Luke Gerdes

Gerdes.jpgis the Minerva Fellow for the Islamic Ideology and in Asian Cultures research project. Luke graduated from Yale University in 1999 and worked in finance in Chicago for several years before returning to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a Masters of Public and International Affairs in 2005. He then enrolled in a doctoral program, also at the University of Pittsburgh. His academic concentrations were Foreign Policy, National Security, and International Development.

Luke's work history and research interests have focused extensively on Islamist terrorism. He spent time studying extremism in Southeast Asia at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore and researched the global salafist movement at the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) at Carnegie Mellon University, before spending a year conducting similar inquiries as a visiting researcher at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College.

As the winner of the 2010 Smith Richardson World Politics and Statecraft Fellowship, Luke had the opportunity to conduct significant research abroad. He conducted interviews in cities targeted by Islamists in South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa, East Africa, and Western Europe.




Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering

is the Minerva Fellow for African Studies from June 1, 2012. Dr. Muhajir earned his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Kansas in May 2011, specializing in human geography and urban planning fields. From 1994 to 2001, he worked as the Director of Surveys and Urban Planning Department in Zanzibar, Tanzania and as a Director of World Heritage City of Zanzibar’s Urban Conservation Program in 2001 to 2005. He has also been involved in urban development programs in Tanzania and for some Western Australian cities as an intern following the completion of his MA degree from Curtin University in 1993. His undergraduate diploma was achieved in 1985 from Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania which gave him a familiarity with urban planning, environmental management, and cartography (now GIS), where urban design, spatial analysis, and aerial photo interpretation were his central areas of study as they have continued to be so throughout his professional and academic career. He has also studied at University of Dortmund, Germany, the University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica, and Galilee College in Israel on spatial planning and environmental management fields.
He has also worked as a host and research collaborator with a number of scholars during his professional career in Zanzibar. Most recently, he has collaborated with Prof. Garth Myers of the Trinity College, Connecticut, in a book chapter The Afterlife of the Lanchester Plan: Zanzibar as the Garden City of Tomorrow,” in Liora Bigon, editor, Diffusion of Urban Ideas: Garden Cities and Colonial Planning Cultures in Africa and Palestine (Forthcoming, 2012), and in a 1997 publication (in the Third World Planning Review) and on a National Geographic Society Committee on Research and Exploration which was a grant-funded research project as an in-country collaborator, and on a research on the localization of Agenda 21 in Zanzibar. Between 2006 and 2008, he served as the Research Assistant for the National Science Foundation funded research on land reform in Zanzibar as part of his doctoral research. And from 2007 to 2011, he was the student representative to the Kansas African Studies Center's Executive Council until the completion of his PhD program in May 2011.



John WillisWillis-headshot.jpg

is West Point’s Director of Research Operations, Adjunct Professor for the Network Science Center and the Minerva Research Initiative’s Program Manager. John received both M.S. (Systems Engineering) and B.S. (Mechanical Engineering) degrees from the University of Virginia. Also, a Senior Analyst for Augustine Consulting, Inc. in Monterey, California, Mr. Willis is a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose last active duty assignment was as Executive Officer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering at West Point. 

In previous assignments, he served as an Operations Research Analyst for the TRADOC Analysis Center – Monterey (TRAC-M) and for the Operations Research Center (ORCEN) at USMA. He served in a variety of leadership and staff assignments in the US and overseas as a field artillery officer in the 212th FA Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, V Corps Artillery, and 1st Infantry Division (Forward). 

John is an active member of the West Point-Highland Falls Rotary Club and is Editor-in-Chief of the Phalanx, a publication of the Military Operations Research Society (MORS). His research interests include systems design and decision making methodologies, cultural geography modeling, and portfolio theory.

Kristine Ringler
kringler.jpgis a Research Associate for the Minerva Research Initiative. Ms. Ringler received a BS in Mass Communication from North Dakota State University in 1999. She served with the US Army as a Civil Affairs Reservist from 2002 to 2010, deploying to Iraq (2004 - 2005) and Kosovo (2007 - 2008). She received an MPP in Global Policy for International Development from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, at the University of Minnesota in 2009. At the Humphrey Institute Kristine’s studies focused on the importance of impact evaluation for development initiatives in multidimensional programs. In 2010 she worked as a Research Manager for the Department of the Army’s Human Terrain Systems, conducting on the ground socio-cultural research in the Basra and Ninewa Provinces of Iraq. As a member of a Human Terrain Team, she conducted research for the Army, the State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Most recently, Ms. Ringler was an instructor and developer on the District Stability Framework for USAID in Afghanistan; where she taught a methodology that enabled multi-national forces, US and foreign government officials and Afghan provincial government leaders to more effectively develop programs in order to mitigate or reduce the root causes of instability.

Her personal research interests include understanding societal and cultural dynamics of developing nations, to enhance community development initiatives which allow the US and foreign governments to make informed decisions based on sustainable agricultural development and resource management programs. Another interest is studying the effectiveness of COIN Stability Operations initiatives and connecting ground application efforts to strategic levels in a conflict environment. More specifically the relationship between civilian and military operations and the impact it has on the local population.

Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership

The Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership offers majors in the behavioral sciences. Five disciplinary options (majors) are available including: Psychology, Engineering Psychology, Leader Development Science, Management, or Sociology.

Overall, study of the Behavioral Sciences provides an opportunity to increase cadet understanding of human behavior at several levels ranging from the individual through small groups, to organizations and social institutions. The courses taught and insights gained improve cadets’ ability to describe, explain, predict and influence human behavior. The Behavioral Sciences majors allow cadets to structure an appropriate sequence of electives which will ensure understanding of behavior from the psychological, as well as the sociological and organizational perspectives.  This underlying basis ensures that every program of study in the department has direct and immediate relevance to the lives of our graduates during their careers as Army officers and beyond.

Kate Coronges

Coronges2_cropped.jpg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point.  Dr. Coronges received a Masters degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology in 2005 and a Ph.D. in Health Behavior in 2009 from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Her dissertation used dynamic social network modeling techniques to investigate the role of friendship dynamics in the spread of alcohol and marijuana cognitions and behaviors. The emphasis of her work has focused on unconscious associations in memory that drive many behaviors, and how social interactions influence these memory associations.

She has also consulted with a number of agencies as a program evaluator using social network analysis to map communication and resource networks in order to identify how alliances between members can facilitate or hinder success of the agency’s missions. She has presented her research at US and European conferences, and has published four peer-reviewed articles and one book chapter in fields ranging from physiology and psychology, to cognition and social network analysis.

Currently, Dr. Coronges is working on several projects in the Network Science Center at West Point, with particular interest in using actor-oriented models to detect behavioral and social changes over time. 


Diane Ryan

Ryan_2011.jpgColonel Diane M. Ryan is an Academy Professor and Program Director of General Psychology for Leaders in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY. She is also the Officer-in-Charge of the Corbin Forum and an Officer Representative for the Women’s Basketball Team. She was commissioned through ROTC in 1988. During her 23 year career as a U.S. Army Signal officer she has served in a variety of command and staff assignments – all in tactical units including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division during Desert Storm, 82d Airborne Division, 8th PSYOP Battalion, and III Corps Headquarters. Her most recent operational assignment was with the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad, Iraq and Fort Hood, Texas where she served as Deputy G6 and later Deputy Chief of Staff for the Division. While in Iraq she worked with a number of NGOs and founded a US-Iraqi partnership for military women.

Colonel Ryan’s military schools include the Signal Officer Basic and Advanced courses, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army Airborne and Jumpmaster courses, and the U.S. Army Special Warfare Center French Language Training and Regional Studies courses. Her awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award), Army Commendation Medal (2nd award), Army Achievement Medal (5th award), the Senior Parachutist Badge and the Malaysian Parachutist Badge.

She is also the recipient of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Regimental Association Bronze Order of Mercury. Her research interests include empowerment, diversity and innovation, and attitudes toward social change. She recently completed student research projects in Northern Ireland and Rwanda and is currently working on studies of resilience, critical thinking and mentoring.

Irving Smith


is a native of Albany New York. He entered the United States Military Academy in July of 1983 and graduated on 27 May 1987. Upon graduation he was commissioned as an Infantry Officer and assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) where he served as a rifle and mortar platoon leader. In 1989 he was selected to serve in the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment (Savannah Georgia), where he served as a platoon leader, company executive officer, Assistant S4, and S4. During his service in the Ranger Regiment, LTC Smith earned a combat scroll for service in support of operation Desert Storm. After serving in the Ranger Regiment he attended the Infantry Officer Advanced Course where he graduated with distinction. Upon graduation from the Infantry Officer Advanced Course (1995) he was assigned to Fort Hood Texas where he commanded the 2nd Armored Division’s Long-Range Surveillance Detachment and B Company 3-41 Infantry.

LTC Smith's next assignment was at the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point where he served as the Academy’s Minority Admissions Officer 1997-1999). Upon completing his assignment at USMA he attended the Naval War College for one year before being assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. While at Fort Bragg (2000-2003) he served as the 18th Airborne Corps G3 (current ops) as well as a Battalion Executive officer in the 1/505 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. While serving in the 82nd he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, an M.B.A from Columbia Business School, an M.A. from the Naval War College, an M.A. from the U.S. Army War College and a Ph.D. (Sociology) from the University of Maryland. COL Smith is currently serving as an Assistant Professor and Director of Sociology at the United States Military Academy.

Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering

The Geography Program in the Department of Geography & Environmental Engineering at the United States Military Academy offers courses and faculty expertise in human and physical geography. The Program educates Cadets in areas such as cultural and ethnic patterns, natural hazards, land-use change, geopolitics and insurgency, demographic patterns, and how humans alter the environment. The 16 faculty (7 PhD faculty members) are experts in areas such as natural hazards and disaster response, political insurgency, energy issues, land-use change, cultural landscapes, and climate change. In addition, two faculty members are experts in developing cultural and regional expertise in the Department of Defense. The program is online at http:/

Andy Lohman


is a Special Forces officer with operational experience as an ODA and SF Company Commander in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean. He is a political geographer with research interests in the geography of war and conflict, with a specific focus on insurgency and civil war.

His dissertation analyzed the spatial patterns of intra-state conflict through an urban network approach. He teaches EV 365: The Geography of Global Cultures and EV 374: The Geography of the Middle East and Africa.







Jon Malinowski


is a Geographer with teaching and research interests in environmental perception, spatial ability, children’s geographies, summer camps, and the geography of Asia. He is the published author of several books, academic journal articles, and book chapters.

He currently serves as the Human Geography Director.  Dr. Malinowski serves as the course director for EV303 (Foundations in Geography) in the fall term and EV365 (Geography of Global Cultures) in the spring.​​​​​​​








2012 Minerva Research Initiative Summer Apprentices


Minerva Research Associate Kristine Ringler (left), along with Summer Apprentices Barbara Autin and Robert Rasmussen, participate in the Advanced Network Analysis Targeting (ANAT) Training hosted by USMA's Math Department. 

Barbara Autin is a Research Apprentice working in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.  She is assisting Minerva Fellow Dr. Luke Gerdes on the network analysis of Islamic Terrorist Groups.  Barbara graduated from the United States Military Academy with a BS in US History, and is a 2012 honor graduate of Hawaii Pacific University’s MBA program with a certificate in management.
Robert Rasmussen is a Science & Engineering Technology Apprentice working in the Department of Geography & Environmental Engineering.  He is assisting Minerva Fellow Dr. Makame Muhajir on research into the topologies of ethnic, political, and religious identities, as well as migration patterns.  Robert is a 2012 graduate of Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs with a MA in International Relations and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies, as well as a 2010 graduate of the State University of New York College at Geneseo with a BA in International Relations and Geography with a minor in Asian Studies.  Robert has previously worked as a Research Intern at the National Defense University’s Center for Complex Operations at Fort Leslie J. McNair, DC, and at the U.S. Military Academy's Network Science Center.  Robert also serves in the New York State Guard, where he holds the rank of Specialist.  His is currently assigned as the Awards & Ceremonies NCO for the New York Guard’s Headquarters at Camp Smith near Peekskill, New York.  Robert’s research interests focus around the nexus of politics, economics, security, and geography, with heavy regional interests in Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and China.  Robert is also an Eagle Scout, volunteers as an Assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 23 of West Point, and has previously served as a Unit Commissioner, District Committee Member, and as an Area Director while part of a Camp Staff.  After leaving West Point in September, Robert will spend a year as a Legislative Policy Fellow with the New York State Senate in Albany, and will be applying for Political Science Ph.D. programs for the 2013 Academic Year.