Simphiwe's research focuses on the political geography of populism. She is interested in the geographical behaviour of the EFF in South Africa and the Rassemblement National in France especially the extent to which spatio-historical politics and territoriality have influenced the rise of populist electoral politics in Africa's 'rainbow nation' and Europe's 'indivisible republic'.
Simphiwe is an Eldred Scholar at Linacre College, Oxford, and a Civil Society Scholar through the Open Society Foundations. She holds a master's degree in environmental law, natural resources and energy law. Prior to Oxford, she conducted research at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an ORISE Research Fellow in the Office of Science Policy (Washington D.C.) and the Office of Environmental Justice (Seattle, Washington).
Her research is funded in part by a scholarship through the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.