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Director and Principal Investigator 



Abby Córdova’s  research program relies on a multidisciplinary approach to examine the causes and consequences of inequality and marginalization, integrating topics related to violence against women, organized crime, militarization, and international migration in the context of Latin America and the Caribbean. Along with several collaborative projects about gender-based violence in the region, Abby is working on a book manuscript that examines the role of the state in increasing the risk of gender-based violence in countries in the Global South marked by organized crime and the militarization of public security. Her current research has been supported by a Harry Frank Guggenheim Distinguished Scholar Award and grants from Evidence in Government and Politics (EGAP) as well as Kellogg's Ford Program in Human Development and Solidarity, Notre Dame Research, and Notre Dame International. Her published work has also been recognized with a  Sophonisba Breckinridge Award from the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) and a Mirian Irish award from the Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) for best papers on the topic of gender and politics. Her work includes two book projects and recently published  articles examining the attitudinal and behavioral effects of policy responses to violence against women:

Researcher and Project Coordinator



Isabel Güiza-Gómez investigates the determinants and effects of social mobilization for redistribution during political transitions in unequal, war-torn contexts like Colombia, focusing on collective action of marginalized groups along the borders of class, gender, race, and ethnicity. Her research has been supported by the Graduate Women in Science National Fellowship, Notre Dame Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Notre Dame Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Notre Dame Graduate School. Alongside Abby Córdova and Juan Albarracin, she examines public opinion on lethal violence against grassroots peacebuilders, including women and indigenous social movement leaders and former insurgent combatants in post-accord Colombia.



Notre Dame Research Associates 

Graduate Students


Anivesh Bharadwaj analyzes legal arguments to develop international institutions that acknowledge gendered identities of victims of genocide to redress gender-based violence in the Global South. His research shows that the current definition and limited recognition of gender-based violence ignores the intersectionality of the gendered identities of victims and reduces the gender-based persecution to sexual assault.



Géssica de Freitas investigates legislative outcomes on gender issues during conservative administrations, focusing on Brazil. Along with Abby Córdova, Géssica examines evidence on the effects of a higher representation of women in the police on citizens’ attitudes toward the police and gender-based violence as well as impacts on the incidence of violence against women and reporting rates in Brazil.


Laura Netfaly López-Pérez examines collective action of victims of criminal violence, often led by women, focusing on families of disappeared persons in Mexico.


Mayra Ortiz Ocaña explores the conditions under which specialized prosecution offices effectively prosecute crimes in violent contexts such as Mexico.


Natán Skigin examines strategies to increase solidarity with vulnerable groups such as immigrants and victims of human rights abuses, usually shepherded by women, in Mexico.



Undergraduate Students

Grace Clinton studies female health and maternal care access in Ghana, Botswana, and other sub-Saharan African countries. She is writing her capstone project under Abby Córdova and Mayra Ortiz Ocaña’s supervision.


Adriana Abidaner Arbaje studies the effects of reporting systems on gender-based violence in Mexico under Abby Córdova’s supervision.


Isabella Henriquez research agenda includes the developmental effects of violence in childhood. She is a research assistant to Abby Córdova tasked with verifying the accuracy of trial transcripts based on machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques.


Melissa Osorio studies the causes and consequences of entrenched inequalities women face in Latin American countries.  She is a 2023-2024 Ethics Research Fellow at the Notre Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS), working with Abby Córdova as a research assistant on projects related to violence against women.


Lena Shadow examines the effects that low statewide police legitimacy has on the work of civil society actors mobilizing against gender-based violence in South Africa. She is writing her capstone project under Abby Córdova and Mayra Ortiz Ocaña’s supervision.


Isabela Tasende is interested in examining interconnections between gender-based violence and political participation in Central America. As part of  Kellogg’s  International Scholars Program, she has served as a research assistant to Abby Córdova, coding qualitative and quantitative data, including trial transcripts with the purpose of examining armed actors’ strategic use of violence against women  and  biases in judicial rulings in El Salvador.


Fabrice  Uwhirwe researches the role that parents and teachers play in retaining students in the educational system in Rwanda. As part of Kellogg’s International Scholars Program, he has worked with Abby Córdova on the identification of  best practices and evidence-based interventions to address violence against women in Global South countries.



External Research Affiliates 


Juan Albarracin is an Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Juan investigates the threats to political and civil rights in contexts marked by large-scale violence and extra-legal governance. Alongside Abby Córdova and Isabel Güiza-Gómez, he studies public opinion on lethal violence against social movement leaders and former insurgent combatants in post-accord Colombia, focusing on women and indigenous peoples.



Sandra Ley currently heads the Security Program at México Evalúa and previously was Associate Professor in the Political Studies Division at Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE) in Mexico City. Sandra examines criminal violence and its impacts on political behavior, focusing on Mexico. Along with Guillermo Trejo, professor at the University of Notre Dame, she co-authored the book entitled Votes, Drugs, and Violence. The Political Logic of Criminal Wars in Mexico (published in English by Cambridge University Press, 2020, and in Spanish by Debate, 2022), which was awarded as the Best Book of Autocracy and Democracy Section of the American Political Science Association. Together with Abby Córdova and Celine Gonzalez, Sandra conducts research on the effects of civil society’s engagement with emergency alert systems on preventing and eradicating violence against women in Mexico.



Celine Gonzalez is a senior researcher at the Security Program at México Evalúa. Her work centers on gender-based violence in political campaigns in Mexican subnational units, partnering with UN Women. Alongside with Abby Córdova and Sandra Ley, Celine investigates the effects of civil society’s engagement with emergency alert systems on preventing and eradicating violence against women in México.



Isabella Randle is a PhD student in Political Science at University of North Carolina. Isabella studies the intersection of political behavior and violence against sexual and gender minorities. She is currently working with Abby Córdova in a project that examines Venezuelan women's access to violence against women services in Colombia and host communities’ support for gender policies that facilitate the integration of female immigrants.



Isabel Laterzo is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her work investigates the involvement of police in politics, under what circumstances citizens support punitive policies, and how the identities (gender, race, and ethnicity) of politicians and citizens affects public security politics. In joint work with Abby Córdova, she is exploring how citizens interpret and justify the political involvement of law enforcement officials in Brazil.



Carlos Schmidt-Padilla is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Penn Development Research Initiative and Data Driven Discovery Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. Carlos examines the impact of organized crime on development and institutional stability and the implications of migration patterns on political and economic development in Latin America. Together with Abby Córdova, Carlos explores gender biases in court rulings in the context of Latin America and the impact of violence against women on health outcomes.



Angie Torres is a PhD candidate in Government at Cornell University. Her dissertation develops a novel framework for understanding state responses to gender-based violence and the consequences thereof on women’s political development and notions of justice. Angie and Abby Córdova are working on a project that examines citizens’ responses to gender-based violence vis-a-vis other forms of crime in Mexico, including willingness to mobilize politically to demand justice for victims.