Paula Rodríguez Díaz

Paula believes in guaranteeing a quality education for all.


Fact file

  • Current position: Msc student at Universidad de Los Andes and Data Science Researcher at Quantil.
  • Former position: B.S. Mathematics and B.S. Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Los Andes.
  • Main interests/academic achievements: I am interested in the use of human-centered machine learning as a tool for supporting and improving public policymaking. / Women in Data Science (WiDS) ambassador and member of the organizing committee of the Machine Learning for the Developing World (ML4D) Workshop. Winner of the 2019 DataJam Pasos Libres – IBM, a technological innovation competition that seeks to develop data-based solutions to prevent, identify, and assist human trafficking victims.
  • 2020 DSSG Summer project group: World Bank.


What is a social cause you care about deeply?

I deeply care about the guarantee of quality education for all, particularly in my home country, Colombia. Being fueled by this core belief of mine, I co-organized LiderAndes, an initiative that financially supports young Colombian leaders to pursue their undergrad or master’s degree at Universidad de Los Andes. Through this initiative, we’ve been able to grant four full scholarships for five-year undergraduate programs and six full scholarships for the Master in Peace Construction. Additionally, joining both my love for math and my passion for education, I volunteer as a math teacher for elementary school students from a vulnerable community in Bogotá to support their learning goals.

What have you found the most interesting so far when working with World Bank?

Working with the Anti-Corruption team from the World Bank has been an incredible learning opportunity. From our discussions, I’ve been able to better understand these practices, including the way they can be interpreted in different settings and what situations may be highly suspicious. It’s been great to see that there are highly experienced people who are committed to tackling this relevant issue in their daily research and work.

When you're not working, what can you be found doing?

Probably training gymnastics or dancing, spending some fun time with my youngest siblings, and always enjoying a good cup of Colombian coffee!

What skills have you gained so far on the DSSGx summer project programme and working with World Bank?

Working on DSSG in the midst of a pandemic has been both challenging and fascinating. Even though teamwork in a virtual setting seemed to be hard at first, I’m glad to see that we’ve been able to know each other and have almost perfect synchronization for our work. Therefore, I’d say for sure I’ve gained virtual work skills. From the project itself, I’ve been able to develop skills in the sense of translating social related situations, such as anti-corruption, to data-driven scenarios.

What blog, podcast or book does everyone need to be aware of?

Women in Data Science Podcast features outstanding women in data science. Here they share their work, advice, and lessons learned throughout their careers in what I perceive as a more personal and inspiring way from what could be seen in a traditional seminar or conference.

What would be your dream industry/ sector to work in? How do you think your involvement in the DSSG could help you get there?

My long-term dream is to work both in academia and the public sector.  Even though I am not sure which kind of institution I aspire to work in, I am sure that I want my research and related work to serve as a tool for decision-making in the public sector, particularly in Colombia and Latin America. I’m positive that my involvement and experience with DSSG will help me to better understand the use of applied mathematics approaches to interpret and tackle public sector issues and public policy related matters.