Biography

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany, State University of New York (UAlbany), where I am also a Research Associate at the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis (CSDA), a federally-funded NICHD Population Center, and affiliated faculty in the Ph.D. program in Information Science, Department of Informatics, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

My research examines the patterns, causes, and consequences of institutional change in Latin America and the Caribbean — primarily in the justice and security sectors — as well as patterns of violence and insecurity across the Americas. Drawing on a family history in Mexico (dual citizen - U.S. and Mexico), seven years of professional experience in law enforcement in the U.S. (California), academic training in law and political science, and two years of fieldwork in Brazil and Mexico, I examine the political origins of justice reforms, judicial behavior, violence, and security, emphasizing a subnational level of analysis.

The centerpiece of this research thus far is my single-author book, Crafting Courts in New Democracies: The Politics of Subnational Judicial Reform in Brazil and Mexico (Cambridge University Press, 2016). Additional academic work has appeared in the peer-reviewed journals Political Analysis, Comparative Politics, Government and Opposition, Homicide Studies, Journal of Latin American Studies, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Latin American Politics & Society, Latin American Research Review, and Scientific Reports. I have also authored several chapters in edited volumes, as well as policy briefs and research reports, including work for the Brookings Institution and Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

On a more practical side, my research has led to consulting, including projects on evaluating perceptions of criminal procedure reform in Mexico and an impact evaluation of juvenile justice reforms in the Caribbean funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). I have also presented work on multiple occasions before policy and practitioner audiences, including judges in Brazil, police, judges, and prosecutors in Mexico, U.S. Congress (briefings for House and Senate staff), agencies of the U.S. Department of Defense, agencies of the U.S. Department of State, and broader audiences at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

I hold a law degree (J.D. 2006) and a Ph.D. in political science (2009), both from the University of New Mexico. Prior to joining the faculty at the University at Albany, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the University of California, San Diego (2009-2010), Assistant Professor of Political Science (tenure track) at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (2010-2011), and post-doctoral fellow (2011-2012) at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame. I was born and raised in Mexico and speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese.