I am a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in the joint program between the Department of Statistics and Heinz College School of Public Policy and Management.

Maria professional2Research Interests

I am a PhD student in the joint Statistics and Public Policy program, working with Stephen E. Fienberg and Jay B. Kadane. My work is driven by interdisciplinary projects in public policy and human rights.

I currently research causation in legal contexts by using the Causes of Effects and Effects of Causes framework developed by Stephen E. Fienberg and Philip Dawid. I have applied this framework to evaluate the use of scientific evidence by expert witnesses in cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and other forms of child abuse. I also work on projects outside child abuse, and I am exploring using experimental design to develop a blinding mechanism that can reduce contextual bias in forensic analysis.

I am interested in developing survey methodology for hard-to-reach populations by using network sampling and capture-recapture methodology. I have also worked on the problem of estimating underreporting of self-reported drug usage with Jonathan P. Caulkins.

I have recently been involved with the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, the Carnegie Mellon Center for Human Rights Science, the CMU National Science Foundation Census Research Network, and the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence.

 Previous Experiences

I am a physicist by training and wrote my undergraduate thesis at Reed College on estimating dark matter distributions by using weak gravitational lensing. My advisor was A.A. Knowlton Professor of Physics Mary B. James.

Before starting graduate school I developed the Bus ConCiencia, a mobile laboratory that brings science experiments and teacher trainings to schools in remote areas of Chile.

I also worked at JPAL, the MIT Poverty Action Lab, where I focused on evaluating social programs. While working at JPAL, I designed the logistics to implement a randomized controlled trial in the field. This gave me insight into the advantages and challenges of surveys. It also introduced me into the intersection between statistics and public policy.

Last updated: April 29, 2016.

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