Biography

I am an Associate 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). At UAlbany, I am also affiliated with the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis (Research Associate), the Ph.D. program in Information Science (INF) in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (affiliated faculty), and the Master of International Affairs (MIA) program (affiliated faculty).

At the most general level, my research examines democracy, development, and methods. More specfically, I am interested in the role of law in democracy and development, and even more concretely, my work examines the patterns, causes, and consequences of legal actors and institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean — primarily in the justice and security sectors — as well as patterns of violence and insecurity across the Americas. Regarding methods, I am interested in multi-method research, spatial analysis, and network analysis, and carry out research the develops new methods for integrating spatial analysis and qualitative methods.

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, more than two years of fieldwork in Latin America and the Caribbean, and several experiences consulting on USAID-funded projects in the region, I enjoy the combination of rigorous scholarly research and more applied policy analysis and program evaluation.

The centerpiece of my 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 several peer-reviewed journals, including 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, and am co-editor of two volumes: Beyond High Courts: The Justic Complex in Latin America (University of Notre Dame Press, in production), and Concepts, Data, and Methods in Comparative Law and Politics (Cambridge University Press, under contract). Further, I have also authored 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.