I received a PhD in Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder in April 2017.  My primary fields are comparative politics, international relations, and methodology.  My teaching and research interests broadly focus on democracy, law and society, social change and economic development in developing countries, particularly in Latin America.

My dissertation investigates the puzzle of rising crime across Latin America amidst improvements in human development and democratic governance. While efforts have been made to reform the criminal justice system, we do not know the conditions under which judicial reform effectively deters homicide. Drawing on four months of fieldwork in Mexico as well as a novel cross-national dataset and a sub-national design in Mexico, I find that criminal procedure reforms aimed at improving due process are not sufficient for deterring homicide in places where non-state actors (i.e. drug cartels) effectively challenge the state’s monopoly of violence. In these settings, citizens are less willing to use the formal system of justice – despite reform efforts – primarily out of fear. Without society cooperation, the prosecution is less equipped to investigate, prosecute, and solve crime, resulting in impunity and little deterrence.  In selecting remedies to combat homicide in Latin America, different communities need to pursue different strategies. While due process reforms are attractive policy solutions given their higher respect for human rights, they are effective only in places where the state maintains its monopoly of violence.  The research demonstrates the challenge for new democracies in establishing the rule of law where judiciaries must simultaneously meet rising democratic demands while effectively combatting violence and threat.

Research Interests:  Comparative politics, Latin American politics, democratization, law and society in developing countries, economic development, and poverty and ethnicity in developing countries

Teaching Interests:  Comparative politics, International Relations, Latin American politics, development and political economy, democracy in developing countries, ethnic politics, law and society, politics of inequality and poverty, revolution and political violence, war and peace, and undergraduate research methods


M.P.P., Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, 2006

M.A., Social Work, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 2006

B.S., Social Work and Business Administration, Bethel College, North Newton, KS, 2002