Personal profile


I teach a variety of courses in the Politics Department, mostly in the areas of comparative politics and international relations, and the introductory course in Global and Regional Studies. My main area of research and interest is Latin American politics with a special concentration on Brazilian politics where I lived for six years. I have conducted research on police violence against minors in Brazil, and am currently working on the politics of microcredit policies and outcomes in Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica. My focus on human rights led inspired me to offer a course with the same name, and to work in the area of prisoners' rights for seven years with the Oakland based non-profit, California Prison Focus. I also teach a course on the ethics of warfare (Just and Unjust Wars), and a course in American Politics (Politics of Incarceration). 

Active Research Project: Politics of Microcredit

This project seeks to understand the determinants of microcredit policy in Latin America by examining partisan political interests and the political ideological worldview of key policymakers and stakeholders, and examining state capacities more generally. My research aims to uncover how politicians and policymakers make and implement decisions on microcredit policies in ways that advance their political and bureaucratic careers but that do not necessarily advance (and often contradict) the more general goals of microcredit as a tool for economic and social development.  Thus far I have conducted interviews and surveys in Brazil, Argentina, and Costa Rica on this project.

Human Rights and Democracy

My research focuses on democratization processes in general, and specifically on the challenge of defending human rights under the rule of law in recently (re)democratized regimes. My major regional focus is Latin America and I have conducted research in Nicaragua, Colombia and Brazil. I have published three articles on the politics of human rights, police violence and public security policy in Brazil. 

Microcredit Policy in Latin America

During 2008-2009 academic year, I spent my sabbatical year in the state of Parana, Brazil studying and comparing different development projects with respect to financing.  While international development organizations have touted the Grameen model as the new best solution to poverty and social injustice, some research suggests that microfinance projects are not always feasible nor as successful as their adherents claim.  The purpose of my research is to determine the limits of the microfinance approach and the extent to which that model is feasible in specific contexts.

Prison Politics

I teach courses on the Human Rights and the Politics of Imprisonment, taking students to state prisons (San Quentin, Solano), county jails and a juvenile justice center. I served as president of California Prison Focus for 7 years, an Oakland based human rights organization dedicated to ending the current California prison system and replacing it with something truly rehabilitative that does not warehouse people or torture them with indefinite long-term solitary confinement.  I served on the prisoners' Mediation Team during the historic statewide hunger strikes of 2011 and 2013, which ultimately completely revamped solitary confinement policies in California releasing thousands of individuals to general population yards where they can receive education and other programming.

Contact Information

Office: Garaventa 307
Phone: 925-631-4584
Fax: 925-376-2411
Mail: P.O. Box 4730

Related documents

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Political Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

… → 1999

MS, Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

… → 1992

BS, German and Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

… → 1986

External positions

Associate Researcher, UNICENTRO

Jan 1 2008Jan 1 2009

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Oberlin College

Jan 1 2002Jan 1 2003

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies, Indiana University - Bloomington

Jan 1 2001Jan 1 2002

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of the South

Jan 1 2000Jan 1 2001

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science, Davidson College

Jan 1 1999Jan 1 2000

Research Interests

  • Human Rights and Democracy
  • Microcredit Policy in Latin America
  • Prison Politics


  • Political Science