David L. Knoll

PhD Student

  • PhD, (In process) The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • MALD, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University
  • BA, University of Virginia
  • Arabic Language Certificate, American University in Cairo, Arabic Language Institute


David is a doctoral candidate in the International Security Studies Program at the Fletcher School. His research is focused on the intersection of technology and national security. David’s dissertation examines the impact of Internet communication on innovation diffusion patterns, specifically as they relate to non-state armed groups and military technology. Additionally, he has a strong regional background in the Middle East and South Asia. David’s research maps the spread of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) during the Iraq War and was done in collaboration with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization in the Department of Defense. The publication of his IED chapter will mark the first time that this data has been released to the public. David has background in multiple areas of the national security ecosystem, including experience in government, the private sector, and academia. He has served as a Rosenthal Fellow in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, working as a Pakistan country officer. David has also worked as a Summer Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, focusing on social media analysis and cyber security. In line with his research on innovation, David is currently working as an advisor to FinTech Sandbox, a Boston-based financial technology startup incubator sponsored by Fidelity Investments, Amazon Web Services, and Intel. Prior to matriculating to the Fletcher School, David was an international affairs researcher at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, DC based think tank, working on U.S. foreign policy issues. He also served as the research director for Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, the last book authored by former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. David worked with Prime Minister Bhutto to build and execute the book’s research agenda, with a focus on examining democratic foundations within the Quran and the relationship between Islam and democracy in modern states. David is a Security Fellow in the Truman National Security Project. He writes regularly on issues at the intersection of national security and technology for publications including TIME, The National Interest, and The Diplomat.

Awards, Fellowships, and Grants
  • Presidential Management Fellow Finalist (2014)
  • Fletcher PhD Scholarship (2012-2013, 2013-2014)
  • Rosenthal Fellowship (2014)
  • Scaife Foundation Award (2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Earhart Foundation Fellowship (2011-2012)

Fields of Study
  • International Security Studies
  • Southwest Asia & Islamic Civilization
  • Technology and Innovation

David L. Knoll with Tarbi, Luke. “Could Asymmetric Warfare ‘Sink’ the US Navy,” The National Interest, May 27, 2014
"Dick Cheney's Belief in the Value of Torture Undoes America," Time, December 15, 2014
David L. Knoll with Herbert, Matthew, “Somalia’s Innovating Pirates,” Reinventing Peace: Blog of the World Peace Foundation, November 5, 2013
David L. Knoll with Herbert, Matthew, “Good things don’t come to an end. They spread…” Reinventing Peace: Blog of the World Peace Foundation, November 19, 2013
Knoll, David. “An Iron Roadblock,” The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, December 14, 2012.
Knoll, David. “Will America’s Addiction to Drone Strikes Backfire?” The Diplomat, October 23, 2012.
• Knoll, David. “Pakistan: front and centre,” Dawn, November 27, 2008, Opinion: p. 7.

PhD Dissertation
  • Military Innovation Diffusion: How the IT Revolution Empowers Non-state Armed Groups

Master's Thesis
  • The Pakistani Army’s 2003-2008 Incursions into North and South Waziristan: A Strategic Culture Approach

Dissertation Advisor(s)
Richard Shultz
Robert L. Pfaltzgraff Jr.

Email Address


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School Leadership


  • Board of Advisors
  • Asian Advisory Group
  • European Advisory Group
  • Latin American Advisory Group
  • MENASA Advisory Group