Dara is an associate professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Her research and teaching interests span the field of international relations, including international security, civil war and the dynamics of violence, and gender and conflict.
Her first book, Rape During Civil War (Cornell University Press, 2016), examines the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador. The book received the 2017 Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the American Political Science Association. Her current project is focused on the intersection of political violence, public opinion and gender in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In 2011, Cohen was awarded the American Political Science Association's Award for Best Dissertation in Women and Politics, and in 2014, Cohen received the Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best article published in the American Political Science Review in the previous year.
Cohen received her Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and an A.B. in political science and philosophy from Brown University. Cohen served as a paralegal in the Outstanding Scholars Program in the Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001-2003. Prior to joining the Kennedy School, she was an assistant professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.