Alumni Spotlight: Gonzalo Mena

May 25, 2022

Gonzalo Mena (GSAS’18) was recently acknowledged as one of Chile's Young Leaders for his work in artificial intelligence in the solving of complex phenomenon. The recognition by Sábado Magazine and Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez’s Business School, annually highlights Chileans up to 35 years of age who – from a variety of areas and disciplines – contribute to solving the country’s most pressing issues.

Mena gained fame in Chilean media when in May 2021 an article of his authorship (along with five other researchers) was published in Science Magazine, one of the world’s most prestigious academic journals. The research paper, entitled “Socioeconomic status determines COVID-19 incidence and related mortality in Santiago, Chile,” evidenced the substantial consequences of socioeconomic and health care disparities in a highly segregated city like the Chilean capital, providing practical methodological approaches that can be used in the characterization of the COVID-19 burden and mortality in other urban centers.

After graduating from Universidad de Chile with a degree in Mathematical Engineering in 2011, Mena moved to New York, where, between 2012 and 2017, he earned an MA and a PhD in Statistics at Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). After completing his doctoral degree under the supervision of professor Liam Paninski, Mena joined Columbia’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain and Behavior Institute as a postdoctoral research scientist. He then relocated to Massachusetts to work at the Data Science Initiative at Harvard University. From 2020 he has been based in the UK, where he is a Florence Nightingale fellow and tutor in Computational Statistics and Machine Learning at the University of Oxford. His current work seeks to automate the process of identifying neurons in worms with the use of microscopic images.