CLALS | Affiliated Doctoral Students


  • Latin American/Latino Studies
    Fax: 202-885-6430
    4545 42nd Street, Room 308

    Stinchcomb, Dennis A
    Program Manager

Mailing Address

Erik Alda

Justice, Law and Criminology, School of Public Affairs
Year of program entry: 2011

Erik Alda holds a BA in International Affairs and an MA in Latin American Studies from American University. From 2001 to 2003 he lived in the slums of Fortaleza (Ceará), Brazil where he worked with an NGO and learned from community leaders and youths living in poor urban communities. In the past ten years, Erik has conducted extensive research on Latin America and the Caribbean, publishing research on crime and security issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also helped design and implement programs for the IADB and World Bank.

Erik's main interest lies in the differences in crime and security in different countries within Latin America, and and his dissertation will measure police performance within developing countries.

CLALS Kara Andrade

Kara Andrade

School of Communication
Year of Program Entry: 2014

Kara has more than ten years of experience working in the United States and Latin America as a bilingual journalist, entrepreneur and multimedia producer for a variety of leading media organizations including Al Jazeera America, Americas Quarterly, Associated Press, Christian Science Monitor, France 24, Global Post, The New York Times, and others. She consults as a trainer for the U.S. State Department's eDiplomacy Initiative, as well as for the U.S. Institute of Peace. She has presented in fifteen countries at conferences including the Ashoka Future Forum, Campus Party Mexico, Commonwealth Club of California, Fulbright Annual Conferences, Guatemala Scholars Network, more than ten U.S. State Department organized TechCamps, four consecutive South by Southwest (SXSW) panels, various PeaceTech Exchanges organized by the United States Institute of Peace, the World Social Science Forum, and many others.

Her research interests are in media, technology, entrepreneurship, digital storytelling, social movements and strategy, and Latin America.


Maya Barak

Justice, Law & Society, School of Public Affairs
Year of program entry: 2011

Maya holds a BA in Social Anthropology, and Peace and Social Justice with an emphasis on U.S.-Latin American relations, and an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice with an emphasis on critical criminology and “crimmigration,” or the criminalization of immigrants in the U.S. Prior to joining AU she was lead community organizer and then a board member at the Washtenaw County Workers’ Center, a bilingual immigrant and labor rights organization working predominantly with undocumented Latin American immigrants in SE Michigan.

Her doctoral research explores the link between immigrant legal consciousness and procedural justice as manifested in deportation hearings of Salvadoran and Guatemalan immigrants. Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that draws from the fields of criminology, and law and society, her work offers a holistic examination of U.S. immigration policies and practices, with a special emphasis on Latin American immigrant communities and their experiences in the United States.

Aaron Bell

History, College of Arts and Sciences
Year of program entry: 2007

Aaron holds a BA from Syracuse University (2004) in History and African-American Studies. Prior to joining AU, he spent three years teaching middle school History and English at Missouri Military Academy. His dissertation, entitled “Transnational Conservatives, El Salvador, and the Development of ARENA” examines how transnational conservative networks influenced the Salvadoran Right as El Salvador transitioned to democracy in the midst of civil conflict in the 1980s.

Profile Photo Emily Bello Pardo

Emily Bello Pardo

Comparative Politics, School of Public Affairs
Year of Program Entry: 2015

Emily D. Bello-Pardo's research interests include drug policy and security, processes of democratization and autocratization, and the influence of communication on political attitudes. She graduated with a Master of Arts in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from Florida International University (FIU) in 2015. At FIU, she was a Fellow of the Latin American Marijuana Research Initiative (LAMRI,) where she studied the legalization of marijuana in Uruguay. Previously, Bello-Pardo received dual BAs in Political Science and International Relations from FIU, where she was was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, graduated with academic honors through the Honors College, was part of the debate team, and attained certificates in Latin American Studies and National Security Studies. Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela she serves as Executive Director of Se Habla Venezolano Foundation, position through which she facilitated the electoral mobilization De Miami Pa’ New Orleans in 2012 and 2013, when thousands of Venezuelans from four states mobilized to Louisiana to vote in the Venezuelan presidential elections.

CLALS Jesus Bores

Jesus Bores-Lazo

American University, Washington College of Law
Year of program entry: 2013

Jesús Bores, an S.J.D., is completing his dissertation titled “Regulation and Role of Industrial Property Rights in Innovation and Development within the Framework of Global, Regional and Bilateral Trade Agreements." His research mainly focuses on Latin America, Europe, the United States, and development and the protection of geographic indications. Prior to joining the S.J.D program he worked as an attorney with Bores y Cia Abogados and Gomez-Acebo & Pombo in Brussels, and on the Task Force for Justice and Home Affairs of the European Commission in the field of civil and commercial cooperation in Europe. In conjunction with his legal practice, Mr. Bores has advised the European Commission on international legal projects, mainly in Latin America, the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Bores was a Professor of International, European and Trade Law in several European institutions including the Bar Associaton of Seville, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Europaische Recht Academie, and the Escuela de Organización Industrial.

Further info:

Rachel Cantave

Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Year of program entry: 2010

Rachel completed her Bachelor’s degree at NYU: The Gallatin school of Individualized Study. She focused on post-colonial theory in Latin America and the Caribbean within her interdisciplinary concentration, “A Literary Approach to the New World.”

Her doctoral thesis is a comparative study of the impact Catholic and Pentecostal churches, and Candomble terreiro’s have on their respective communities in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil. Rachel was awarded a Tinker Field Research Grant in 2011 to carry out preliminary research for her dissertation, and has been awarded a Fulbright to complete her research.

Brian D’Haeseleer

History, College of Arts and Sciences
Year of program entry: 2008

Brian’s specialization is in 20th Century U.S.-Latin American relations. His dissertation, entitled From the Jungles to the Mountains: The American Experience in El Salvador, 1979-1992, focuses on the U.S. counterinsurgency intervention in El Salvador during its civil war. The U.S. intervention has been viewed as a successful application of counterinsurgency that supposedly offers lessons for subsequent conflicts (e.g. Iraq). Brian also investigates the various COIN policies the U.S. used in El Salvador (and throughout the region) from 1961 until 1989.

Emma Fawcett

International Relations, School of International Service
Year of program entry: 2012

Emma holds a BA from Rutgers University in Political Science and Spanish. While at Rutgers, she studied abroad in Mérida, Mexico (Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán), and conducted field research in Oaxaca, Mexico for her undergraduate thesis exploring the impact of labor union mobilization and state politics on education reform. She received an MS in Nonprofit Management from The New School where she conducted field research in Haiti for two different projects: first supporting a World Bank-funded study on the apparel industry in Port-au-Prince, and second, for her master’s thesis on fisherfolk organizations in Marigot.

Her doctoral thesis focuses on the political economy of tourism and development in four Caribbean case studies: Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Mexican Caribbean. During summer 2013, she conducted preliminary dissertation field research in the Dominican Republic and Cuba thanks to a Tinker Field Research Grant through CLALS. She is a member of the Latin American Studies Association, and serves as a research assistant to Dr. Cathy Schneider.

CLALS Beth Geglia

Beth Geglia

Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Year of Program Entry: 2013

Beth Geglia received an Honors B.A. at the University of Wisconsin in Madison with majors in Sociology, International Political Economy, and Latin American Studies with a certificate in Global Cultures (2007). She earned a Certificate in Documentary Film from the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies in 2010 and has produced various short documentaries on local and international social movements as an independent media maker. She recently co-directed a feature length documentary about a community-controlled free hospital in Afro-indigenous communities on Honduras' northern coast entitled Revolutionary Medicine: A Story of the First Garifuna Hospital. The film has been presented in nine countries and over a dozen Universities within the United States.

Beth has particular interests in Economic, Ecological, and Feminist Anthropology. She has a professional background in human rights campaigning, crisis intervention for survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking, and language interpretation. In 2014 she received a Robyn Rafferty Matthias grant to do preliminary research on new autonomous economic zones in Honduras, where her research will focus on territorial projects of neoliberalization and their impacts on various forms of collectivity.

CLALS Laura Jung

Laura Jung

Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences
Year of Program Entry: 2012

Laura holds a dual BA in Political Science and Spanish from University of North Texas and an MA in International Studies from DePaul University. Her Master's thesis focused on the dispossession of the afro-indigenous Garífuna from their ancestral lands by industrial African Palm plantation owners. She continues to be in solidarity with Garífuna political struggles and land rights issues in Honduras.

Laura is currently in Honduras conducting field research. Her dissertation research asks what the effects of short-term medical missions are on health outcomes in rural Honduran communities and what the broader social effects of these projects are. Her interests come from her years of experience as a volunteer translator and brigade leader for a short-term medical mission organization that works in Honduras. She also worked with School of the Americas Watch and has several years of experience working with higher education and international not profit organizations. 

Laura's interests encompass a range of topics, from critical medical anthropology, humanitarianism, and development, to race, gender, and inequality. Laura has taught ANTH 110 – Intro to Anthropology at AU and her publications can be found online in Rethinking Development and Inequality, Vol. 3 and ClusterMag, Issue 3. Before beginning field research, Laura was active in the Anthropology Graduate Student Council (2012-2014) and the 2013 Public Anthropology Conference activities - and encourages you to get involved too!! When she's not busy doing interesting and important anthropological work, Laura can be found walking her dogs, baking cupcakes and other goodies, and sewing. Contact Laura at

Kenneth Sebastian Leon

Justice, Law & Criminology, School of Public Affairs
Year of entry: 2013

Ken holds a BS in Criminology and an MA in Criminology with a concentration in sociological theory. Prior to coming to Washington, Ken worked with the Florida Parole Commission's Office of Executive Clemency, where he gained first-hand exposure to the disproportionate representation of men and women of color in the criminal justice system.

Primary research interests include drug policy, vice regulation, criminal organizations, corporate crime, critical criminology, and state power and control. He is currently exploring the theoretical and functional parallels between the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, and how the U.S. has used these concept wars to promulgate hegemonic policies with other countries. More specifically, as a native of Colombia, Ken intends to show how the concept of narco-terrorism represents the fusion of these two "wars" as they pertain to U.S.-Colombia relations.

Other interests include colorism and issues of identity within ethnic communities, and the testing of criminological theories in international contexts. Ken serves as an adviser for two Latino student organizations at Georgetown University and Johns Hopkins University.

Abby Lindsay

International Relations, School of International Service
Year of program entry: 2013

Abby holds a MA in International Environmental Policy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University, and a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Mary Washington. Abby has studied tropical ecology and environmental policy in Costa Rica and Brazil; researched sustainable development in Mexico; and completed Masters field work in Honduras and Costa Rica about renewable energy and international climate policy. She has also worked with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy, as well as done volunteer work in Ecuador and Haiti. Prior to coming to American, Abby worked at the State Department on environment and trade policy, where she had a heavy focus on Latin America, collaborating with governments to advance environmental policy and incentivize private sector adoption of environmental technologies and practices.

Abby’s focus within the field of Global Environmental Policy is water governance. Her doctoral research will look at international influences in domestic water policy, with a comparative analysis of water technology adoption in Latin America. Abby is currently research assistant to Sikina Jinnah, and is working with American University’s Center for Environmental Policy and the Partnership for Technology Innovation and the Environment on scaling up water technology adoption.

Luciano Melo

Comparative Politics, School of Public Affairs
Year of program entry: 2013

Luciano Melo is a Brazilian student with a BA in Communication from Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Brazil; and an MA in International Relations from CUNY, USA. His areas of interest are transparency and democratization of the Southern Cone, as well as the integration of Latin American countries.

Prior to coming to the U.S. he was was an instructor in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, giving classes and lectures to more than 1,000 students from the tri-border area of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil.

Rachel Nadelman

International Relations, School of International Service (ABD)
Year of program entry: 2011

Rachel earned her BA in Comparative Literature (French and English) from Brown University, Rhode Island and her MA in International Affairs (international development) from The New School, New York. She has studied and worked abroad in Nicaragua and was awarded an Educational Fellowship with the Argentine Ministry of Economy and Finance, Secretariat for Economic Policy in 2006.

Rachel’s dissertation focuses on an in depth case study of El Salvador as a “Deviant Case” in the role of the diverse anti-mining coalition and the country’s current anti-mining macro-economic policy, which is distinct for the region. The case study will be embedded in a mapping/categorization of Latin American nation-states based on a comparative analysis (from secondary research) of the intersections among: national/regional mining policy (depending on the system of governance, i.e. federal or centralized); response/backlash to such policies and their implementation; and the result effects (if any) on national/regional policy (by government and/or private sector as relevant). The final stage will use the lessons from El Salvador and explore the potential for applicability elsewhere.

Rachel has dedicated her work and studies for the last decade on Latin America (and the Caribbean), with substantial research and development project experience in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, El Salvador and Haiti. She has worked with several organizations that work specifically on Latin America, and continues to consult with the World Bank’s Latin America region and with The German Development Corporation (GIZ). Rachel’s goal has always been to try and support the strengthening of the voices of those who are so often invisible. Learning and becoming fluent in Spanish has deepened her commitment to working and knowing this region of the world and it is where she plans to focus her professional and intellectual work in the future.

Paula Orlando

Communication, School of Communication
Year of program entry: 2011

Paula Orlando earned her BA in Journalism from the Universidade Estadual de São Paulo (UNESP) and worked for several years as a newspaper reporter and magazine editor prior to moving to the U.S. and receiving her MA in Political Science from Illinois State University.

Paula Orlando’s dissertation focuses on alternative and activist media, produced by social movements in the context of systematic police violence in Brazil, São Paulo in particular. Paula was awarded a Tinker Field Research Grant in 2012 through CLALS to carry out preliminary research for her dissertation. Her previous research examined the visual representations of HIV/AIDS in Africa utilized by international development organizations, and the relationship between women’s rights violations and HIV/AIDS prevalence in Zambia.

CLALS Fernanda Rosa Profile

Fernanda Ribeira Rosa

School of Communication
Year of Program Entry: 2015

Fernanda Rosa graduated with a degree in sociology from the University of São Paulo and earned a Masters in Public Management and Policy at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas, where her thesis focused on digital literacy in Brazil. She is particularly interested in the interdependence of local Internet policies and the global Internet governance ecosystem and how the disputes in this arena are central to understanding the concept of national sovereignty today, while also shedding light on public understanding of technology as key to the exercise of citizenship. Because Brazil is the first country to have a broad Internet regulation policy, she has begun her research on the “Marco Civil da Internet” (Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet). 

Rosa is the co-author with Gustavo Azenha of Mobile Learning in Brazil: Management and Implementation of Current Policies and Future Perspectives (2015, available in Portuguese and in English). She has also published in Sur - International Journal on Human Rights.

CLALS Barbara dos Santos Profile

Barbara dos Santos

Political Science, School of Public Affairs
Year of program entry: 2015

Barbara dos Santos received her BA in International Relations in Vila Velha, Brazil and her MA in Political Science from West Virginia University. Her research focuses on Brazilian politics and environmental policy, the latter of which affects and is affected by the policy of neighboring South American countries, especially those who share the Amazon rainforest with Brazil.

Marcela Torres

Comparative Politics, School of Public Affairs
Year of program entry: 2011

Marcela holds a degree in Law and a Master’s in Anthropology from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica, in Lima, Peru. Her doctoral research focuses on the legal strategies, both formal and informal, used by indigenous organizations in the Andean Countries to achieve control over natural resources.

Ray Zuniga

Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public Affairs
Year of Program Entry: 2013

Ray Zuniga earned a BA from Swarthmore College and a Masters of Public Affairs from University of Missouri-Columbia. His research focuses on issues of access, persistence, and completion in postsecondary education, especially related to Latinos in the United States. His upcoming work will likely center on undocumented immigrants and state-level DREAM acts. 

Prior to studying at AU, Ray was heavily involved with social justice programs aimed at high school youth in the Kansas City metropolitan area.