Dr. Cecilia Farfán-Mendez leads the security research portfolio at the University of California San Diego, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. She also is an affiliated researcher with the Center for Studies on Security, Intelligence, and Governance (CESIG) at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico (ITAM) based in Mexico City. Farfán is an expert on organized crime and female participation in criminal groups, and co-founded the Mexico Violence Resource Project, an online platform providing analysis and resources for journalists and policymakers on violence and organized crime in Mexico. Since 2020, she has co-chaired the Public Security and Public Health working group of the U.S.-Mexico Forum 2025 led by USMEX. In addition to her formal academic initiatives, Farfán has consulted for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, is a columnist for Mexico Today, member of the Urban Violence Research Network and is a member of the strategy committee for the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.
Farfán received her doctorate in political science from UC Santa Barbara, her master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and her bachelor’s in international relations from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She has been a recipient of several research fellowships including the Fulbright Program, the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology.