“I think my main turning point for believing in myself was when I got that first piece of code to run successfully”
For Eduardo Cardenas-Torres, the sky has always been the limit. Growing up, Eduardo idolized both of his parents, people who he saw working tirelessly to provide for the family. He vowed to take full advantage of the opportunity they provided, telling himself then and there he would become the first in the family to receive a master’s degree.
Going to community college didn’t dampen his goal; after two years of making the honors list at SBCC, Eduardo transferred to UCSB as a Statistical Science major, eager to get involved with research.
His perceived inexperience didn’t set him back either. After only one quarter at UCSB– and subsequently only one quarter of upper-division statistics classes under his belt– Eduardo began to reach out to professors for research opportunities.
At first, no one took a chance on Eduardo. But he remained persistent, knowing that getting research experience would be vital to his future.
Finally, Dr. Michael Nava offered Eduardo a position as a Research Assistant in the Department of Statistics and Applied Probability. Nava’s research investigated whether Author diversity affects UC journal publications, and he needed Eduardo to help him clean up and analyze data.
That too came with its struggles for Eduardo. For his first project, he was tasked with coding an API key that would allow the team to gather the data they needed. Eduardo spent an entire week trying to code the key, but couldn’t figure it out. Doubts began to creep in… were the other professors right that he wasn’t ready to do research yet?
Then, something clicked for Eduardo. After talking to his colleagues, Eduardo reprogrammed his code, and ran it once again. This time, it worked like a charm.
“I think my main turning point for believing in myself was when I got that first piece of code to run successfully,” Eduardo said. “It was also great to see how [that code] helped my team members proceed with their section of data management.”
Since then, Eduardo has used his code to collect the names of more than 75,000 authors. From there, he creates a “homophily” index, which analyzes how similar or different the authors of a particular piece are based on their ethnicities. After running his data through linear regressions and cluster analyses, he has found that the more diverse the authors on a piece are, the more likely they are to be cited in UC system publications.
Eduardo also finds himself as the de-facto leader of the group– a far-cry from the kid who couldn’t even find a research position when he started looking.
“I started off just scheduling all of the meetings for the team,” he said. “ From there, I directed the group organically towards what the next steps were [for our research].”
Through it all, the sky remains the limit for Eduardo. He has already gone to three conferences to present his research, including the SAEOPP McNair National Research Conference in Atlanta. In his fourth year now, he is well on his way to accomplishing his goal of going to grad school.
“All the grad school’s I’ve talked with have been really impressed with my research, especially because I’ve used some techniques in my research that they typically teach,” Eduardo said.
Eduardo is quick to credit Dr. Nava in his success, who has created an open and transparent research environment in which Eduardo can both learn and flourish. While Eduardo’s time in his lab may be coming to a close, his experience will impact him for years to come.
“[My research] has made me more passionate about my education and pursuing a graduate degree,” Eduardo said. “ If anyone wonders how research is, all I can say is that it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself.”