Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Sergio Ascencio Bonfil

May 7, 2020

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Sergio Ascencio Bonfil

Dr. Sergio Ascencio Bonfil is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science. His research areas encompass political institutions, electoral manipulation, and party strategy in developing democracies with a Latin American focus. Additionally, his focus includes Formal/Game Theory and Quantitative Methods.


What region or population of Latin America or Iberia do you study? Why?

Most of my research focuses on my home country, Mexico. Growing up, I witnessed a series of political transformations, including the country’s transition to democracy, and became interested in understanding the consequences of these changes.


What has been your path to becoming a professor?

I developed an interest in academia during my time at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM), where I graduated with a BA in political science. Originally, my plan was to go to graduate school straight from undergrad, but at the end of my senior year I took a job at the Office of the Mexican Presidency, which meant I did not start my graduate studies until a couple of years later. I received my PhD in political science from the University of Rochester in 2018. Before joining UNM, I was a Postdoctoral Associate at New York University Abu Dhabi.


What motivates you in your current work/research?

My research is motivated by understanding some of the different tools politicians use to consolidate and stay in power, such as the strategic design of political institutions and the manipulation of the electoral process. 


Describe a Latin American/Iberian role model that inspires you. This can be a historical or contemporary figure or someone you know.

I am grateful for the mentorship, example, and support of many of my professors at ITAM, most notably Jeffrey Weldon and Federico Estévez. They are smart, kind, and dedicated scholars. They have helped me every step of the way. My hope is, someday, I can be a positive influence for someone the same way they have been for me. The late Alonso Lujambio was also a huge influence. He fueled my passion for political science and was my first academic role model.


Describe one piece of advice you have for young scholars in the field of Latin America and Iberia.

Don’t go to a PhD program that doesn't fund you!