Alumni Vanessa Rivera-Quiñones, B.S. in Mathematics 2013


Vanessa Rivera-Quiñones received her bachelor’s (B.S.) degree in Mathematics with a Minor in Finance from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras in 2013. At Río Piedras she was awarded the “Francisco Garriga Award” (Most Distinguished Mathematics Student). Vanessa has a master’s (M.S., in 2016) degree in Applied Mathematics and a doctoral (Ph.D., in 2019) degree in Mathematics both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She wrote her Ph.D. dissertation “Mathematical Models of Daphnia Epidemics” under the supervision of Zoi Rapti.

Vanessa’s main research interests include adaptive dynamics, mathematical modeling and ordinary and partial differential equations. She has been an Applied Mathematician with several years of experience in interdisciplinary and computational projects in R, Python, and MATLAB with a passion for telling stories through numbers in various context such as data science, science communication, and education.

Among other Mathematics applications she has:

  • Developed a content-based book recommendation system based using a tf-idf model (term frequency-inverse document frequency) to determine the similarity of content.
  • Built an automatic credit card approval predictor using a logistic regression model and performed cross-validation to find optimal hyperparameter values.
  • Used fuzzy (sound) name matching to find the gender distribution of children’s picture books authors over time.
  • Implemented the Gillespie algorithm in MATLAB to simulate a stochastic model of recurrent epidemics.
  • Gathered and analyzed video data using ImageJ to visualize the movement of the zooplankton Daphnia when exposed to light.

Currently Vanessa is one of the Co-editors of an AMS blog named Blog on Math Blogs .

Awards, Honors, and Fellowships

Brahana TA Instructional Award (Fall 2017)
Graduate Teaching Certificate & Teaching Scholar Certificate (Spring 2017)
Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship (Fall 2015)
State Farm Fellowship Award (Spring 2014, Summer 2016)
Dr. Francisco Garriga Award: Most Distinguished Mathematics Student (Fall 2013)

Vanessa enjoys taking pictures, drawing, and bowling.


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