Parkinson holds a Ph.D. (2013) and M.A. (2008) in Political Science from the University of Chicago and a B.A. (2004) in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University. She has been awarded fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, and Yale University's Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence. From 2017-2019, Parkinson is conducting research on ethical communities of practice in crisis zones as part of the Exploration of Practical Ethics program at Johns Hopkins University’s Berman Institute of Bioethics. From 2019-2021, Parkinson will conduct fieldwork on emergency response in the Middle East with the support of a Catalyst Award.
Parkinson serves on the Steering Committee of the Project on Middle East Political Science, a collaborative network designed to enhance the field of Middle East political science and to advance its engagement with academics, policy circles, and the broader public realm. She is a co-founder of the Advancing Research on Conflict Consortium, which facilitates the development of methodological, technical, practical, and professional resources that researchers need to conduct fieldwork in fragile and violence-affected environments.