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Raquel Barata: Graduate Student

Degree Program: 
Ph.D., Statistics
Pismo Beach
Graduate Institution: 
UC Santa Cruz
Bruno Sansó and Raquel Prado
Raquel Barata

What are you researching?

I work on dynamic quantile linear models. There are some models already out there but we’re trying to develop one that’s more flexible to work for more types of data, essentially. What we’re really interested in right now is an application to detect atmospheric rivers. We’ve had a bunch of atmospheric rivers dump on us in the last few weeks, that’s why we were getting so much rain. So we’d like to be able to look at time series data, and the 85th quantile of that series data gives us information about whether or not atmospheric rivers are happening. So we need more flexible models to model that 85th quantile. It also has some potential for prediction but we’re not quite there yet.

What made you choose the Baskin School of Engineering for your studies?

I definitely wanted to come back to California where the weather is nice and warm. I came here to visit and met with the faculty and really liked their research. A lot of them do environmental applications which was really the most important thing to me, to have an application that I felt would keep me going when the math got difficult. The professors have this work hard/play hard attitude, which sounds cliche but not a lot of other statistics departments prioritize balance the way our professors do and so that’s what sold me. It’s really balanced here. Some of the grad students here have kids and the faculty are really understanding of any circumstance.

What do you do for fun?

I have a cat and a dog so I like to hang out with them. I like to go to the beach. When I need a break I like to get some sunshine so I go out walking or hiking or I check out some tidepools.

What’s next after grad school?

I think I want to teach. I taught for a few years before coming here and it was awesome. I like the students but I think I’d prefer to teach college students because I like connecting with them.

I’m not a “math genius.” I’ve always considered myself a Jack-of-all-trades. I can sing halfway well, I can draw halfway well. I probably could have done almost anything because I have the same level of natural talent at basically everything so it makes me less intimidating and more relatable. I think this helps a lot with teaching because the students can relate to me very easily and I can explain things in really simple terms that they can understand.