Mario Barela ’11
Applied Mathematics

Prior to transferring to UC Santa Barbara, Mario Barela dabbled in several disciplines, including business and economics, before he eventually found his passion in applied mathematics. He was not aware of the research opportunities on campus until a teaching assistant encouraged him to get involved and to apply for scholarships.

After getting accepted into the UC LEADS Program, which provides research funding and other academic support, Mario started his search for a summer research adviser.

He found a good match with Mathematics Professor Carlos Garcia-Cervera, who agreed to mentor Mario. Together they developed a summer research project looking at mathematical analyses that can be applied to a variety of science problems. Mario continued to work with Professor Garcia-Cervera during the school year and has presented the results of his research at several conferences in Southern California.

Drawing upon his experience as a community college transfer student, Mario also serves as a peer mentor for other math transfer students through the Scholarships for Transfers to Engage and Excel in Mathematics (STEEM) Program.

Though he did not originally consider graduate school, advice and encouragement from his mentors pushed him in that direction with an eye to a future in industry or as a professor. He will continue doing research in the summer at UC Berkeley and then will enroll as a Ph.D. student in applied mathematics at the University of Iowa in the fall. Mario encourages incoming students to get involved on campus and to start looking for scholarships and research experiences early.