New Faculty: Alan Zarychta and Yanilda María González

Two new additions to the SSA faculty

News Type
SSA Magazine (Archive)


Professor smiling

Alan Zarychta, a political scientist who specializes on Latin America, joined the SSA faculty this year as an Assistant Professor. His research focuses on the politics of social services in Central and South America, especially in the areas of public health and environmental policy. More broadly, he investigates the sources and effects of institutional reforms aiming to improve local service delivery—how public sector reforms are targeted, the contextual conditions that shape their effectiveness, and whether such reforms can fundamentally alter local governance systems. "I want to understand why some health systems produce more and/or better outcomes," says Zarychta. "So far, my research has uncovered positive effects on women's health services from decentralization. The next questions are why and how can this be replicated?"

Zarychta's research is conducted with an interdisciplinary team working in collaboration with the Honduran Ministry of Health to study the effects of decentralized governance on the performance of local health systems in that country. He is also beginning related projects on health sector reform in Guatemala and Nicaragua. This work benefits from the generous support of the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. "I hope to be able to establish field placements in Honduras for SSA's international program," says Zarychta. "It will give students valuable experience, and we'll have more help on the ground."

Zarychta is also a Fellow at SSA's Center for Health Administration Studies (CHAS). Prior to joining SSA, he assisted numerous US federal government agencies on issues of environmental policy while employed by IEc (Industrial Economics Inc.) and was Director of Health Information Systems for the non-governmental organization Hombro a Hombro in Honduras. "I came to SSA as I wanted to be in a place that cares about policy and research and that supports interdisciplinary ideas."

Zarychta earned his PhD in political science from the University of Colorado Boulder. He also holds a MA in public policy from the University of Colorado Boulder and a BS in education and social policy from Northwestern University.


Woman with curly hair looking at the camera with a slight smile

Yanilda María González has been appointed an Assistant Professor at SSA. Her research explores the consequences of violence and inequality for state capacity, democratic citizenship, and the relationship between citizens and state institutions in Latin America.

She's completing a book, Authoritarian Coercion by Democratic Means: The Paradox of Police Reform in Latin America, in which she probes the persistence of violent, corrupt, and unaccountable police institutions, and the political and social drivers of institutional continuity and change. She explains that in Latin America, "police forces engage in widespread extrajudicial killings and torture that largely target marginalized sectors of society, including Afro-descendants, the poor, and those living in the urban periphery. These same groups are also underserved by their police, leaving them vulnerable to high rates of criminal violence. While these practices run counter to principles of democratic policing, these patterns of coercion have proven remarkably resistant to reform."

González's nearly two years of immersive qualitative field research in Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia brought her to Chicago—and SSA—to study policing reform efforts in the city. "Chicago is an interesting place to study the dynamic between the police, the state,
and the community," she says. "All democracies have their problems. I want to compare systems in Latin America to the US—and even Africa and India—to see why and how reform happens." González also taught a course on policing in the fall in which she "explored the roles of the police and the state and how they create inequality," she says.

González has always been interested in human rights issues. She has worked with a number of human rights organizations in Argentina and the US, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, where she worked with family members who were victims of police killings.

She holds a PhD in politics and social policy from Princeton University. Prior to coming to SSA, González was a postdoctoral fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.