Matthew M. Sweeney, Ph.D. |


The University of Massachusetts Lowell, School of Criminology and Justice Studies

May 2020 - Ph.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice, Option: Terrorism.

Dissertation: Who's in Charge?: How Groups Centralization Influences Ideology, Tactics, And Recruitment In American Extremist Groups.

Awards: Amy Finn Human Spirit Award


Aug 2014 - M.A., Criminal Justice, Graduate Certificate: Security Studies.

Award: Outstanding Graduate Student (Top 5% Graduating Students)


May 2013 - B.S., summa cum laude, Criminal Justice, Option: Information and Technology.

Award: Outstanding Undergraduate Student (Top 5% Graduating Students)


Work Experience:

Quantitative Research Analyst, American Institutes for Research, Crystal City, VA (9/2021-Present)

  • Perform quantitative analyses on crime data to achieve actionable insights for funders and collaborators. Manage, organize, and verify the data to ensure high-quality standards.
  • Work with large and small project teams to achieve reductions in violence, access program effectiveness, and develop funding proposals for local, state, and federal government funding organizations.
  • Develop new business lines via grants from local, state, federal, and non-governmental entities.

Justice Policy Research Analyst, Harris County Justice Administration Department, Houston, TX (9/2020- 10/2021)

  • I performed independent and collaborative qualitative and quantitative research on criminal justice policies and practices. For example, in my tenure, I developed and co-developed county-wide model policies for law enforcement on use-of-force, U-Visa Certification, and independent oversight of law enforcement. Additionally, I worked on law enforcement training on de-escalation and implicit bias, pretrial risk assessment training for the judicial branch, and alternatives to incarceration to homelessness, prostitution, and drug abuse.
  • I represented the Department with local and regional government officials, including law enforcement, and coordinated research priorities and agendas.
  • Worked cross-functionally with members of our data team to identify and develop new products to present county data for public consumption. In addition, continually assess and optimize datasets and products to ensure data accuracy and transparency.

Adjunct Professor, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA (5/2018-5/2020)

  • Developed class lectures based on course objectives using modern multimedia and presentation technologies.
  • I integrated BlackBoard ULTRA and other online tools for student assessment and engagement, developing courses on Terrorism (Domestic and International) and Introduction to Criminology.

Doctoral Fellow, School of Criminology and Justice Studies, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA (8/2014 – 5/2020)

  • Planned, prepared, and delivered instructional activities that facilitate active learning experiences in courses on terrorism, the criminal justice system, and data analysis. In addition, I managed multiple classes per semester, providing instruction, assessment, and student evaluation.
  • I managed 20 students on multiple research projects. I developed coding guidelines, trained coders in identifying relevant data, and performed data cleaning and validation. In addition, I worked on large projects developing datasets on far-right criminal activity and terrorist video propaganda, resulting in several peer-reviewed publications and one book.

Student Trainee (Program Management and Analysis), Government Accountability Office, United States Federal Government, Boston, MA. (5/2015 – 8/2015).

  • I co-authored and produced the 2015 capping report on implementing the Government Performance and Results Act, Modernization Act. This report evaluated the Act's implementation in executive branch federal agencies and their compliance with the statute and best practices.
  • We developed a dataset of relevant reports, publications, and internal memos from multiple federal agencies to identify the Act's implementation gaps. The dataset served as the data source on the project to determine executive branch compliance with federal law.


  • Qualified Social Media Intelligence Analyst (Q|SMIA), McAfee Institute, Credential: 29539462.
  • Research Competencies: Open-Source Investigation and Intelligence, Content Analysis, Bivariate and Multivariate Regression Analysis, Social Network Analysis, Multi-Level Regression Modeling, Data Cleaning, Data Management, and Program Evaluation.
  • Software Competency: STATA, SPSS, NVivo, MaxQDA, and Microsoft 365 Suite, including Access and Excel. I am currently expanding my technical ability in R.
  • Research Foci: Decentralized and Amorphous movements, Far-Right Extremism, Extremist use of the Internet and Social Media, and Law Enforcement Policy.


Sweeney, Matthew M., Chenane, Joselyne, L., & Perliger, Arie. (Forthcoming). The role of demographic diversification of the police force in curbing hate crimes: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Police Practice and Research: An International Journal. 00(00). 1-18. 10.1080/15614263.2021.1919109.

Harris, Christopher & Sweeney, Matthew M. (Forthcoming). Understanding Police Union Contracts. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.

Dmello, Jared R., Perliger, Arie, & Sweeney, Matthew. (Forthcoming). The Violence of Political Empowerment: Electoral Success and the Facilitation of Terrorism in the Republic of India. Terrorism and Political Violence.

Sweeney, Matthew M. (2021). An Evaluation of Harris County Traffic Stop Data in Compliance with the Sandra Bland Act. Harris County Justice Administration Department.

Sweeney, M. M., Perliger, A., & Pedahzur, A. (2021). Reconstructing the theater of terror. Small Wars & Insurgencies, 32(3), 469-489.

Cepuran, C., Roy, A., Yáñez Correa, A., Sweeney, M., James, V., Cummings, B. L., & Linder, L. (2021). Data on crime, overall crime trends in the City of Houston and Harris County, ODonnell Consent Decree implementation, and solutions to address violence and support crime survivors. Harris County Justice Administration Department.

Sweeney, Matthew M. & Kubit, Meghan. (2020) Blood and Scripture: How the Islamic State Frames Religion in Violent Video Propaganda. Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, 13(2), 172-190.

Sweeney, Matthew M. (2019) Who can be a Leaderless Resistor: A Case Study Test of Literature-Based Assumptions of Leaderless Resistance. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 42(7), 617-635. 10.1080/1057610X.2017.1407480.

Sweeney, Matthew M. & Perliger, Arie. (2018) Explaining the Spontaneous Nature of Far-Right Violence in the United States. Perspectives on Terrorism, 12(6), 52-71.

Perliger, Arie & Sweeney, Matthew M. (2018). United States-Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ISIS: The Failure to Defeat Jihadist Terror. In Lieberman, E. (Ed.), Deterring Terrorism: A model for strategic deterrence (pp. 248-267). Taylor & Francis Books.

Perliger, Arie & Sweeney, Matthew M. (2018). Terrorism: Domestic. In Shapiro, Lauren R. & Maras, Marie-Helen (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Security and Emergency Management. Springer.