Leading experts from academia, journalism, and the worlds of policy and advocacy come to CLALS as Research Fellows to advance scholarship and contribute to public debate. Fellows carry out research independently and participate in Center-sponsored initiatives, bringing their expertise to bear on a wide range of issues in Latin American and Latino Studies.

In addition, doctoral candidates planning to undertake research in Washington D.C. related to Latin American or Latino studies are welcome to apply to affiliate with the Center as Research Fellows. The Center cannot provide stipend support, but students accepted to the program receive access to work space at CLALS, the library, and other research infrastructure at American University.

Program Description

Research Fellow Application

Current Fellows

Fulton Armstrong

December 2012 - Present
Fulton T. Armstrong directs the Center's blog, AULABLOG; contributes to the Cuba Initiative; and collaborates on in-depth examinations of security programs in Central America. He is currently collaborating with CLALS Fellows and staff to provide technical and capacity-building support to researchers at Universidad del Oriente (UNIVO). Before joining the Center, he followed Latin American affairs for almost 30 years in a number of U.S. government positions. He served as a senior professional staff member responsible for Latin America on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from July 2008 to October 2011, where he also worked closely with the committee's investigations team. Prior to that, he served in the Executive Branch in a series of policy and analytical positions. Among other senior positions, he was National Intelligence Officer for Latin America - the U.S. Intelligence Community's most senior analyst - in 2000-2004, and for six months he was the chief of staff of the DCI Crime and Narcotics Center. He served two terms as the Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council (1995-97 and 1998-99), between which he was Deputy NIO for Latin America. From 1980-84 he worked for U.S. Representative Jim Leach (R-Iowa). He has spent 12 years studying and working in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. He speaks Spanish and Chinese.

Email: fultona@american.edu

Lucas Damasceno Pereira

September 2022 - Present
Lucas Damasceno Pereira is a political scientist and law student at the University of São Paulo. He has experience analyzing international networks and transnational circulation of urban security models mostly focused on the agency of international actors. He is currently working with Democracy and electoral integrity in the Electoral Observatory of the Americas, a partnership between the University of São Paulo and the Organization of American States (OAS), and is also a volunteer in Electoral Transparency Brazil responsible for observation of voting abroad. Lucas is an experienced observer and regional coordinator in Electoral Observation Missions deployed by the OAS.

Email: lucas.damasceno.pereira@usp.br

Luiza Duarte

September 2020 - Present
Luiza Duarte is a journalist, producer, and political scientist based in New York. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Wilson Center, Brazil Institute, as well as at CLALS. She is collaborating with CLALS staff to research China's efforts to shape perceptions of its role in Latin America.

Duarte has been in the broadcast media industry for 14 years, working in several aspects of production, behind and in front of the cameras, writing print and web articles, and creating multimedia content for traditional and social media platforms. She is the former US correspondent for CNN Brasil. Previously, she worked as the Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent for GloboNews, the main Brazilian pay-TV all-news channel, part of Globo Group, the largest commercial TV network in South America. She covered the Umbrella Movement, Hangzhou G20 Summit, the North Korea–United States Singapore Summit, the civil movement in Hong Kong in 2014 and 2019, and many other events in the region. Her research interests include international relations, diplomacy, US-China-Brazil relations, media, cultural policies, environmental policies and national memory. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Institute of Latin American Studies (IHEAL). Duarte received her master's from the Panthéon-Assas University French Institute of Press and her bachelor's from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro School of Communication.

Email: lduarte@american.edu

Steven Dudley

September 2010 - Present
Steven Dudley is a Senior Research Fellow for American University who specializes in organized crime and citizen security issues. In addition to managing InSight Crime, which is co-sponsored by CLALS, Dudley is a principal investigator on the Center's project to study transnational criminal networks in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has contributed to a variety of Center projects including the Elites & Power and the Religion & Violence projects.

Dudley is the former Bureau Chief of the Miami Herald in the Andean Region and the author of Walking Ghosts: Murder and Guerrilla Politics in Colombia (Routledge, 2004). Dudley has also reported from Haiti, Brazil, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Miami for National Public Radio and The Washington Post, among others. Dudley has a BA in Latin American History from Cornell University and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. He was awarded the Knight Fellowship at Stanford University in 2007, is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars during the 2012-2013 academic year.


  • Breaking down security issues on-the-ground in conflict situations
  • Studying trends and tendencies of organized crime
  • Analyzing political crises
  • Reporting on corporate social responsibility, environmental subjects, human rights issues
  • Investigating international and local justice systems

Email: sdudley@insightcrime.org 

Breno Ferreira Martins Vasconcelos

January 2023 - Present
Breno Ferreira Martins Vasconcelos is a researcher and professor of Tax Law in the graduate department of Insper Learning Institution, a private university, and also conducts research at Fundação Getulio Vargas in São Paulo, Brazil. He received a Bachelor's degree in Law and a Master's degree in Tax Law from Universitá degli Studi di Bologna in Italy. Breno is a Doctoral candidate in Law and Development at Escola di Direito de São Paulo da Fundação Getulio Vargas.

Email: breno@mannrichvasconcelos.com.br

Andreia Fressatti Cardoso

January 2023 - Present
Andreia Fressatti Cardoso is a political scientist and doctoral student at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. She has a Master's degree in political science from the State University of Campinas, and a Bachelor's degree in Law from the State University of Maringa, both in Brazil. She has experience in research in political theory and human rights, more specifically in the formation of the subject of rights in the public space. Currently, she has been investigating the formation of rights' subjectivity through dissenting processes, including lawsuits and public demonstrations, funded by a São Paulo Research Foundation's grant. 

Email: afcardoso@american.edu

Luciana Gandini

September 2020 - Present 
Luciana Gandini is a Research Fellow at CLALS, a Non-resident Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and a full-time tenured researcher at the Legal Research Institute at UNAM in the area of Sociology of Law. She is a member of the National System of Researchers (SNI, CONACYT), level II. She coordinates the University Seminar on Studies on Internal Displacement, Migration, Exile and Repatriation (SUDIMER) at UNAM, which promotes research on migration and human mobilities at UNAM. She is a co-author of Caravanas (UNAM, 2020), which was a co-recipient of the 2020 William M. Leogrande Award. In 2018, she received the award "Reconocimiento Distinción Universidad Nacional Jóvenes Investigadores 2018" by UNAM.

Her project, Emerging challenges on immigration policy: the case of Migrant Protection Protocols and other Latin American forced immigrants, aims to identify some of the main public policy challenges on both, human mobility and international protection in the Latin American region and particularly Mexico in a context where the increase on the mobility of people in need of international protection contrasts with the tendency of governments to impose limits on the right of asylum. Additionally, in recent months she has been researching the impacts of the COVID-19 sanitary crisis on the inclusion and effective access and exercise of socio-economic rights of Venezuelan and Central American displaced populations in Latin America and how this situation generates and even more complex scenario and demands reshaping immigration policies through the enforcement of international protection principles. 

Luciana is interested in topics related to international migration, development and human rights; (in)voluntary migration and forced migration; Venezuelan exodus and Central American migrant caravans; impacts of COVID-19 on migrant and refugee population; return and skill migration; and qualitative and quantitative social research methods.

Email: lgandini@american.edu

Claudia Heiss

September 2023 - Present
Claudia Heiss is Assistant Professor at Facultad de Gobierno, Universidad de Chile, where she leads the undergraduate program in political science. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from the New School for Social Research, M.A. from Columbia University, and B.A. in Journalism from Universidad de Chile. Claudia is also Adjunct Researcher at the Center for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies and at the Millennium Nucleus for the Study of Media, Public Opinion, and Politics, as well as Former President of the Chilean Political Science Association 2012-2014, Member of its board 2021-2023, and Member of Red de Politologas and the Board of Columbia Global Center in Santiago. 

Email: claudiaheissb@gmail.com

Austin Kocher

March 2023 - Present
Austin Kocher is Research Assistant Professor with the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a Syracuse University research institute that uses Freedom of Information Act requests to study the federal government. Key areas of Kocher’s current research at TRAC include federal immigration detention, enforcement and deportation, the immigration court system, and trends within the federal criminal and civil courts. His research also includes grassroots immigrant rights and worker rights movements that seek to push back against deportation as a tool of social and labor control. Kocher is currently chair of the Legal Geography Specialty Group within the American Association of Geographers and is active in the Law and Society Association.

Email: ackocher@syr.edu

Arturo Porzecanski

August 2021 - Present
Dr. Porzecanski, who recently retired from a professorship in international economics at American University (2005-2021), previously taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Williams College. He is an expert in international finance, emerging markets and Latin American economics and politics. Prior to entering academia, he spent most of his professional career working as an international economist on Wall Street.

Dr. Porzecanski was chief economist for emerging markets at ABN AMRO Bank (2000-2005); chief economist for the Americas at ING Bank (1994-2000); chief emerging-markets economist at Kidder, Peabody & Co. (1992-1993); chief economist at Republic National Bank of New York (1989-1992); senior economist at J.P. Morgan Bank (1977-1989); research economist at the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies in Mexico City (1975-1976); and visiting economist at the International Monetary Fund (1973).

Porzecanski carries out and publishes research in international finance; provides consulting services to legal and financial firms, as well as to U.S. government agencies and multilateral institutions; serves on the board of directors of the Tinker Foundation; is a Senior Advisor to the non-profit Emerging Markets Investors Alliance; and is a Dispute Resolution Arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. In mid-2020, he was appointed by the White House to the President’s Advisory Commission on Hispanic Prosperity, and in mid-2021 he was named a Global Fellow of The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 

Email: aporzeca@american.edu

Ricardo Torres

August 2021 - Present
Ricardo Torres holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Havana. He was a professor at the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC) at the University of Havana for more than 15 years. He has been a visiting researcher at Harvard University (2011), Ohio State University (2012), Columbia University (2013), American University (2015), Universidad de La República (Uruguay, 2016, 2018), the Finnish Central Bank and Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle (2019). He has participated in conferences and courses in universities and research centers in several countries in Latin America, Europe, Asia and the United States, and has published several articles in international journals and books. He was the chief editor of the series Miradas a la Economía Cubana (Views on the Cuban Economy), and a columnist at Progreso Semanal/Progreso Weekly. He is also part of the Editorial Board of the journals Cuban Studies and the International Journal of Cuban Studies. He develops his research around economic development, system reform and industrial policies. 

Email: rtorres@american.edu

Joaquim's pictureJoaquim Tres

April 2024 - Present
Joaquim Tres is a senior research fellow at CLALS specializing on international migration and multilateral and bilateral development from public policy and investment perspectives. Previously, he held several positions at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC, including contributing to the establishment of its International Migration Program as a response to the Latin American migration crises with a current investment portfolio of over US$1.5 billion. For over a decade, he headed the IDB’s Regional Public Goods Initiative to promote collective solutions to shared development challenges through South-South Cooperation. He also served as Technical Secretary of the Pacific Alliance Council of Finance Ministers. In Latin America, he was Country Representative of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation (AECID) in Bolivia, Guatemala-Belize, and Mexico. He also had specialist positions in Peru and UNCTAD Geneva, where he carried out international debt economic research for its annual Trade & Development Report. He has extensively written strategic policy documents on migration, trade, foreign direct investment, regional integration, and development cooperation in Latin America, topics on which he also developed and taught courses for edX.org and Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals-IBEI and written corresponding dissemination pieces. He holds a BA from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and an MPhil (Development Economics) from the IDS-Sussex, where he served on its Board of Trustees. He also served on the boards of CIDOB-Barcelona and IBEI.  He is currently a member of the Work4Progress Advisory Committee of Fundacion La Caixa, Spain.

Email: joaquim_tres@hotmail.com