Through two distinct programs, the Center for the United States and Mexico offers opportunities for outstanding scholars from Mexico and the United States to research and engage in a public dialogue at Rice University and in Houston over the summer semester. The center also hosts interested scholars during the fall or spring semesters.

The Visiting Scholars Program at the Center for the United States and Mexico

The center's Visiting Scholars Program funds an international academic visit for one professor or doctoral student from a university preferably outside of Mexico City proper, to conduct independent research on key Mexican and/or U.S.-Mexico policy issues at the Baker Institute.

The Puentes Consortium

The center also receives scholars through The Puentes Consortium, a binational group of universities from the U.S. and Mexico that include the University of the Américas–Puebla, the University of Monterrey, Rice University and the Tecnológico de Monterrey. These universities fund the exchange of faculty members and Ph.D. students (or equivalent) between the members of the consortium. For more information about the Puentes Consortium visit

Other Visiting Scholars

The center also receives self-funded scholars whose research aligns with the research interests of the center.

The Visiting Scholars Program at the Center for the United States and Mexico

Past Participants

Alfonso Valenzuela Aguilera, Ph.D., was the summer 2019 Mexico Center visiting scholar at the Baker Institute. He is the director of the Observatory of Citizen Security and Social Cohesion in Cuernavaca, Mexico. His research interests include the impact of crime on cities. Valenzuela's research project at the Baker Institute focuses on locating crime and examining the spatial dimension of insecurity in Mexico City. This involves evaluating the level of spatial concentration of crime in urban settings, comparing density indices of specific objects or phenomena across areas that are divided into territorial units of observation, and indicating what combination of land use types serve as generators/attractors or detractors of crime. Valenzuela is also a professor of urban planning at the State University of Morelos. Valenzuela received his Ph.D. in urbanism from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, an M.A. in urban and regional planning from Università Iuav di Venezia and a B.A. in architecture from Universidad Iberoamericana.

David Pérez Esparza was the fall 2017 Mexico Center visiting scholar at the Baker Institute. His research interests include examining diverse dimensions of how to reduce violence and crime in the U.S.-Mexico border region. Pérez is co-author of four books on drug policy, organized crime and police reform. At the Baker Institute, Pérez’s research project focused on the illegal trafficking of guns from the U.S. to Mexico. Pérez holds a B.A. in international relations and master’s in public administration and public policy from Tecnológico de Monterrey, a master’s in political economy and conflict resolution from the University of Essex and a master’s in security and crime science from University College London. At the time, he was completing his Ph.D. in security and crime science at University College London.

Baker Institute publication: Mayoral Homicide in Mexico: A Situational Analysis on the Victims, Perpetrators, and Locations of Attacks

Lourdes Ampudia Rueda was the summer 2017 Mexico Center visiting scholar. She is a full-time professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), where she is also a member of the Research Group on ​​Regional Studies, Economics, Population and Development. Her research focuses on regional labor markets, urban economic structures, and economic and social policies for development. She has a master's degree in regional and urban economics from the Autonomous University of Coahuila’s Center for Economic and Social Research. At the time, she was a doctoral candidate in urban studies at the UACJ.

Baker Institute publication: Public Policy in Urban Development: The Privatization of Public Goods in Ciudad Juárez

Luis A. Arriola Vega, Ph.D., was the summer 2016 Mexico Center visiting scholar. During the academic year, he works as a researcher within the Migration Studies and Trans-border Processes Academic Group at El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, (ECOSUR/ Campeche). His research interests include diverse dimensions of human mobility, as well as border studies. Arriola’s work at the Mexico Center focused on examining the impact of the Comprehensive Program for the Southern Border (Programa Integral de la Frontera Sur, PIFS), an initiative implemented in 2014 to enforce security while simultaneously protecting in-transit migrants in Mexico, with a particular interest on the mid-term public policy implications of this program for both Mexico and the United States. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Florida and his M.A. in anthropology from the New School for Social Research.

Baker Institute publications: Policy Adrift: Mexico's Southern Border Program and Mexico's Not-So-Comprehensive Southern Border Plan

Javier Martínez-Romero was the summer 2015 Mexico Center visiting scholar. During the academic year, he teaches graduate seminars in the economics of innovation and technology management at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). Martínez-Romero is a member of a border studies research group at UACJ, for which he analyzes the impacts of public policy on science, technology and innovation on Mexico, with an emphasis on the U.S.-Mexico border. His work has been published in Innovation and Development and the International Journal of Technology and GlobalisationHe has a Ph.D. in administration with concentration in technology management jointly conferred by Univerité du Québec à Montréal, HEC Montréal, McGill University and Concordia University; an M.Sc. in economics and technology management from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana; and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.

Baker Institute publications: Technology Transfer and Energy Reform in Mexico and
Innovation as an Imperative for the Mexican Oil Industry Post Energy Reform


The Puentes Consortium

Past Participants

Carmelo Cattafi, Ph.D., was a summer 2019 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Tecnológico de Monterrey. He is also the technical advisor of Mexico’s National Center for the Evaluation of Higher Education (CENEVAL) and an expert designated for exam validation in political science, public administration and international relations. He has taught classes in international relations, public international law, and citizenship, migration, anti-corruption and civil society. He is a member of the Mexican Network of International Cooperation and Development (REMECID) and co-coordinator of the International Political Science Association’s Scientific Committee RC4 – New World Orders. Cattafi holds a bachelor's in political science with a specialization in international politics from Universitá degli Studi di Messina and a master’s and a Ph.D. in social sciences, both from Tecnológico de Monterrey.

R. Guy Emerson, Ph.D., was a summer 2019 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is a professor in the Department of International Relations and Political Science at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla. His research focuses on themes of violence and the politics of life and death beyond the West. This research works within and extends ideas associated with biopolitics, governmentality and citizen security, and contributes to the literature associated with critical security studies. He is the author of “Necropolitics: Living Death in Mexico” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), and his work has recently been published journals such as International Political Sociology, Latin American Research Review, Journal of International Relations and Development, New Political Economy, Contemporary Politics and International Studies Perspectives.

Nicolas Pierre Foucras was a summer 2019 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico. He is a professor and researcher in the Department of International Relations and Political Science at Tecnológico de Monterrey. He also serves as a member of the CEMEX-TEC committee, "Sustainable Development for Communities," and as a member of the National Institute of Public Administration. His area of expertise includes economic policy, international policy, sustainable development, migration, geopolitics and governance. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Laval University, a master's degree in economic development and international trade from the University of Reading, and a master's degree in international economics from the University of Toulouse.

Juan I. Gonzalez-Espinosa was a summer 2019 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico. He is a full professor in the Engineering Management Department at Universidad de Monterrey, where he teaches about innovation, entrepreneurship and decision-based strategies using predictive analytics. His research focuses on complexity and nontraditional competitive strategy generation, including entrepreneurial initiatives, knowledge transference-based innovation and the use of analytics and big data for transforming organizations. He earned a Ph.D. in business from Tecnológico de Monterrey and completed a specialization in quantitative methods at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

Jorge Ibarra Salazar was a summer 2018 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is an associate professor in the Economics Department at Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM), and a visiting scholar of the Economics Department at Southern Methodist University (SMU). His teaching areas are microeconomics, industrial organization and uncertainty in economics. His research focuses on local public finance, urban economics, economic regulation and models of the firm under risk. He previously served as director of the Economics Department at ITESM, and was director of technical and scientific cooperation for the Mexican federal government from 2005 to 2007. His research focus during his stay at the Baker Institute is on the determinants of municipal fiscal revenue, and how fiscal institutions may influence local governments’ response to federal grants. He has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in economics from SMU, an M.A. in industrial economics from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and a B.A. in economics from ITESM.

Pedro Ruben Torres Estrada, Ph.D., was a summer 2018 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is a professor in the public policy doctoral program and in the public administration and public policy master’s program at the Tecnológico de Monterrey School of Government and Public Transformation. He is also the chair of the Security and Justice Commission Advisory Board for Nuevo Leon Council. His research interests focus on constitutional law, public policies related to justice and comparative models of penal justice. He has served as manager of the implementation program for the Criminal Justice System for Mexico’s Ministry of the Interior Ministry. He previously led the project “Legacy of Security and Constitutional Law Research” at the Tecnológico de Monterrey School of Government and Public Transformation. He has served as advisor to the vice president’s office of the Mexican Senate. Torres holds a Ph.D. in European constitutional law from the University of Salamanca and Bologna.

Juan Carlos Gachúz, Ph.D., was a summer 2016 Puentes Visiting Scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is a full time professor at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla. He has been awarded the Ford-Hewlett-MacArthur scholarship, the University of Essex-CONACYT scholarship and the Alfonso Caso Award (UNAM). He was director of the B.A. program in international relations at the Tecnológico de Monterrey, campus Puebla and worked later as a postgraduate director at the same Institution. He teaches International Security Issues and International Political Economy his research interests are geopolitics and theories of Globalization. He is author or coeditor of five books, including “BRICS the New Agenda” (2013) and “China-Latin America: A relationship in transition” (2015). He holds a B.A. and an M.A. in international relations from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in government from the University of Essex, England.

Baker Institute publication: Globalization and Organized Crime: Challenges for International Cooperation

Elizabeth Salamanca, Ph.D., was a summer 2016 and summer 2015 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center and a professor at the School of Business and Economics at the University of the Americas Puebla (UDLAP). She is also a visiting professor at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Her research interests include organizational culture and migration issues. Salamanca chaired UDLAP’s Department of International Business Administration from August 2010 through June 2014. Before that, she was a professor at UDLAP’s Department of International Business Administration, specializing in marketing, Latin American markets and cross-cultural management. She edited and co-authored the book “International Management Perspectives” and authored the book “Human Resources Strategies in the Restaurant Industry: Overcoming Institutional Voids in Latin American Emerging Markets.” She has doctorate in social and economic sciences from the Johannes Kepler University-Linz in Austria; an MBA jointly conferred by the University of Deusto (Bilbao, Spain), the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Nantes (France), and the University of Bradford (England); and a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from UDLAP.

Baker Institute publications: New Migration Patterns: High-Skilled Entrepreneurial Migration from Mexico to the United StatesPoliticians Should Not Discount the Value of Mexican Migration (op-ed), and Mexican Entrepreneurial Migration to the United States: Open Questions, Policy Challenges

Fernando A. Chinchilla, Ph.D., was a summer 2015 Puentes visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center and an associate professor at the Universidad de Monterrey’s (UDEM) Department of Social Sciences. Chinchilla is also founder and director of UDEM’s Centro de Política Comparada y Estudios Internacionales; an associate member of the laboratory Les Afriques dans le Monde (attached to the Institut d’études politiques in Bordeaux, France); a member of the Université de Montréal’s Réseau francophone de recherche sur les opérations de paix; and a member of the Scientific Committee at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú’s Laboratorio de Criminología Social y Estudios sobre la Violencia. His research focuses on conflict resolution, i.e., peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building, democratization processes and war-to-peace transitions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Chinchilla received a Ph.D. in political science from the Université de Montréal.

Baker Institute publication: Border: An Epidemic of Violence

Adrian Duhalt, Ph.D., was a summer 2014 Puentes Visiting Scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center. He is also an associate professor at Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP), where his teaching focuses on economic geography, corporate strategy and energy issues in North America. His main research at the Mexico Center is related to energy dynamics in North America (shale gas development in the United States and Mexico’s energy reform) and their effect on petrochemical value chains, agricultural productivity and food dependency in Mexico. Duhalt has spoken about energy issues at various conferences and events in the U.S., Mexico and Panama. Prior to joining UDLAP in 2013, he completed his Ph.D. in economic geography at the University of Sussex. His thesis analyzes the main political economy drivers that shaped the development of the petrochemical industry in Mexico over the last few decades. For his conceptual and empirical contributions, he received the Best Ph.D. Thesis Award from the Economic Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers in 2012.

Baker Institute publication: Energy Reform and Autos in Mexico

Other Visiting Scholars

Past Participants

Katia Adimora was a fall 2022 visiting scholar. She completed her master’s degree in Spanish linguistics at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia) and National Autonomous University of Mexico, where she conducted research with a grant awarded by the Mexican government. She came to Edge Hill University in 2017 as an associate tutor in Spanish, before becoming a Ph.D. researcher. Adimora’s main research interest lies in contemporary Mexican immigration to the United States. For her research project, she created a collection of U.S. and Mexican newspapers and conducted corpus assisted discourse analysis to identify the differences and similarities in how immigration from Mexico to the U.S. was depicted during the Trump administration. Comparisons were also made to current depictions of immigration during Biden’s presidency. More broadly, Adimora is interested in the socio-political situation of Latinos in the United States. She is the founder of the Research Group in Spanish and Latin American Studies at Edge Hill University and is an experienced Spanish language teacher at UK universities.

Mariana Campos Villaseñor was the summer 2022 Mexico Center visiting scholar at the Baker Institute. Since 2013, she has led the Public Finance and Accountability Program of México Evalúa in Mexico City. Her research interests focus on improving the governance of public spending. Campos’ research project focuses on improving the working conditions of Mexico’s municipal police force and  its financing. This involves the analysis of actual police working conditions, estimating the cost of improvements and the ways to finance them. At the Baker Institute, she examined current policies for funding police forces in Mexico and their actual level of spending compared to other countries such as the United States. Campos holds a master’s degree in public policy and management and a B.A. in economics.

Richard J. Kilroy Jr., Ph.D., is a nonresident scholar in the Baker Institute Center for the United States and Mexico. He is an associate professor of politics at Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina, where he teaches courses in the Intelligence and National Security Studies degree program. Kilroy previously taught at East Carolina University, the Virginia Military Institute and National Defense University. He also worked as a defense contractor, teaching courses for the U.S. Air Force’s Air War University and the U.S. Army’s Special Warfare Center and School.China. His research interests focus on Mexico’s National Guard and its impact on public safety in Mexico, further militarizing the country’s response to its security challenges; and the US-Mexico security relationship and whether security assistance provided to Mexico has in fact contributed to the militarization of the nation’s public safety institutions.

Martha Estela Perez, Ph.D., is a visiting scholar at the Center for the United States and Mexico and a professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). Perez’s research focuses on gender studies, feminist theory and women in politics. She coordinated the Committee on Gender at the Institute of Social Sciences and Administration and led the course on Studies on Violence, Institutions and Equality Policies for the Master of Interdisciplinary Studies program at UACJ. She is a member of the Centro di Studi Americanistici “Circolo Amerindiano.” Perez received a Ph.D. in social science from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco and an M.A. in social sciences from the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez.

Karla Estephany Alvarado Romero, the fall 2019 United States and Mexico Center visiting scholar, is a National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) fellow pursuing a master's in international relations at the National Autonomous University of México (UNAM). As an undergraduate, she received High Academic Achievement Recognition and a scholarship from UNAM’s Academic Excellence Program. She graduated from UNAM with honors. In 2016, Alvarado received a scholarship from the Mexican Youth Institute that helped support her internship at the Young Americas Business Trust in Panama. She was subsequently a public official for five years at Mexico’s National Fund for Tourism Development. Her research interests include the impact of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on the relationship between the signatory nations of the trade deal and the People’s Republic of China.

Camelia Tigau, Ph.D., was the fall 2016 visiting scholar at the Baker Institute Mexico Center and a researcher at the Center for Research on North America at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. She is an expert in skilled migration and Mexican diaspora. She is the author of the books "Riesgos de la fuga de cerebros en México: construcción mediática, posturas gubernamentales y expectativas de los migrantes" (“Risks of Brain Drain in Mexico: Media Construction, Governmental Positions and Migrants’ Expectations”, México: CISAN-UNAM, 2013) and "Diplomacia en la era digital. La ayuda alimentaria como maniobra neoliberal" (“Diplomacy in the Digital Era. Food Aid as a Neoliberal Manoeuver”) (Mexico City: CISAN-UNAM/Cenzontle, 2009). At the Mexico Center, Tigau’s research project focused on migrant versus native skilled work in the U.S., specifically Mexican professionals in Texas. Tigau received her doctorate in political and social sciences (2007) and her master’s in communications (2004) from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM). She has studied a diploma specialization course in international journalism given by the Schools of Journalism of Holland and Denmark (1999), and also did postdoctoral research on scientific diplomacy (2007-2009). 

Baker Institute publication: Skilled Mexican Migrants in Texas: What the Numbers Hide