Megan Ward

Ph.D. 2022, (2016 Cohort)

Dissertation Project

Deploying the Frontier: Security Expertise and Religion in the U.S. Mexico Borderlands

Professional Background

Defense Consulting and Project Management


Qualitative Methods, Textual Analysis, Atlas:ti



Megan Ward’s research concerns under-reported conflict, marginalized religious practice, and law enforcement expertise throughout the U.S. borderlands and Mexico. She is particularly interested in how informal religious traditions are affected by policy decisions on the U.S. Mexico border and the institutional defense culture that guides those practices.

As part of the JSIS Global Research Group, she guides and researches global and domestic disinformation campaigns, resulting violence, and cybersecurity policy.

Megan received her B.A. in the Study of Religion from the University of California, San Diego, then her M.S. in Homeland Security from San Diego State University. Her background in conflict studies stems from six years working in the defense industry, as well as her time spent in Bangkok, Thailand researching the intersection of human trafficking and Western tourism.


  •  Overcoming access issues with Online Ethnography and the Archival Turn: Walls and Cows: Social Media, Vigilante Vantage, and Political Discourse.  Social Media + Society. (Forthcoming 2022)
  • Participatory Security and Punitive Agency: Acclimation to Homeland Surveillance in the United States. (Forthcoming 2021). Surveillance & Society special issue “Domestic Terrorism, White Supremacy, and State Surveillance.”
  • Ghosts, Spooks, and Martyrs. Historical Hauntings in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. 2021. gamevironments. 85-118. 10.26092/elib/920
  • Walls and Cows: Vigilante Violence as Online Political Discourse. 2020. Social Media + Society
  • Vulnerable Landscapes: Case Studies of Violence and Disinformation.
    Megan Ward, Jessica Beyer. Nov 5, 2019. The Wilson Center.
  • Formative Battles: Cold War Disinformation Campaigns and Mitigation Strategies. Megan Ward, Jessica Beyer, Shannon Pierson. Nov 1, 2019. The Wilson Center.
  • Megan Zebert-Judd, “Material representation: Narco religiosity in new American conception” master’s thesis, San Diego State University, 2016.

Grants & Fellowships

  • Presidential Dissertation Fellowship – 2022
  • Henry M. Jackson Fellowship – University of Washington 2021
  • Women in Defense Horizons Scholarship 2019-2020.
  • Joseph and Yetta Blau Award for Excellence in Research 2019-2020.
  • American Academy of Women National Dissertation Fellowship (Alternate) 2019-2020.
  • International Policy Institute Cybersecurity Policy Fellow, University of Washington, 2018-present.
  • JSIS Diversity & Equity Committee Grant, 2018.
  • Dr. Clyde Snow Fund for Latin American and Caribbean Studies 2018.
  • Dr. Clyde Snow Fund for Latin American and Caribbean Studies 2017.
  • Henry M. Jackson Doctoral Fellowship, 2016.
  • Women in Defense Horizons Scholarship for M.S. work, 2013.

Post Graduation