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

My research focuses on developing statistical methodology for social and behavioral science research, particularly as it relates to making inferences from partially-observed social network structures, correcting for systematic measurement errors such as underreporting of stigmatized behaviors, using multiple systems estimation to estimate population sizes, and estimating coverage error.

I work with surveys for populations that are hidden or hard to reach. This includes the populations of drug users, individuals with HIV/AIDS, sexual workers, illegal immigrants, and war refugees. I also study population counting, which can be particularly difficult for remote populations.

My work is driven by interdisciplinary projects in public policy and the social sciences, including work 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 on estimating dark matter distributions by using weak gravitational lensing.

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: November 18, 2015.