CHSS Distinguished Alumni - Economics

CHSS Distinguished Alumni 


Gary M. Shiffman

MA Economics '01, PhD '02

Award announcement for Gary Shiffman

Gary Shiffman is an economist who works to counter coercion and organized violence and to support others who do the same. After earning an undergraduate degree in psychology, his career began in the U.S. Navy with two tours in the Gulf War. He then moved to Washington, D.C. for positions in the Pentagon and the Senate.    

Shiffman left government to complete his PhD in Economics from George Mason University in 2002, with the goal of advancing his skills in the art and science of human behavior, as well as to create and spark research agendas to bring micro-economics to national security. He joined the faculty of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2002 to teach the next generations of national security professionals. In 2004, he was appointed Chief of Staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  


Starting in 2009, while a principal investigator supporting DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Shiffman began incorporating machine learning into his behavioral modeling research. Since 2010, he has created two software companies, both leveraging behavioral science-based machine learning.  

Shiffman is the author of two books:  Economic Instruments of Security Policy: Influencing the Choices of Leaders (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006); and The Economics of Violence:  How Behavioral Science Can Transform Our View of Crime, Insurgency, and Terrorism (Cambridge University Press, 2020). He has been published in The Hill, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and other outlets.