1. Please describe your specific field of work and what it is that sparked your interest. Are there any other careers you have considered and what events have led to where you are today?
I work in algebraic combinatorics, noncommutative algebra, and a bit of category theory. In recent years my work has centered on algebraic aspects of the theory of hyperplane arrangements. This combines aspects of discrete geometry, combinatorics, and algebra. The algebraic side of the story relates to the classical theory of connected Hopf algebras. All of this is part of a long term collaboration with my colleague Swapneel Mahajan, who is in Mumbai.
Back in high school, before I knew about the possibility of a career as a professional mathematician, I briefly considered going into engineering. Through good high school and college teachers, I quickly focused on math.
2. How would you describe your interaction with math during high school?
I enjoyed math in high school and before. I was fortunate to have good teachers that made the subject challenging and entertaining. I have particular fond memories of a class in Euclidean geometry at age 16.
3. Would you consider yourself a minority in you field in any way? If so, how did you overcome any hardships?
I was born in Uruguay and went to school there, including for my undergraduate degree at Universidad de la República in Uruguay. I came to the US for grad school. I believe hispanics and other minorities experience hardships and in many cases have a steeper hill to climb from an early age. My personal situation has been more fortunate, having been educated abroad.
4. Where do you see yourself 10 years from today?
I will probably be at the same school where I am today. Hopefully I will have worked with a good number of students and I will have had time to complete several research projects. I also hope to have contributed a bit to making the playing field in mathematics more fair and inclusive.
5. What advice would you offer to youth today looking into pursuing mathematics?
To look for peers with similar interests. To find a good book to learn from, patiently. To maintain an open mind to new ideas for as long as possible, before settling on a narrow area within mathematics. To enjoy the process of learning and discovering mathematics as one you can join and participate in. To be aware that the creation and preservation of knowledge is a noble human endeavor, that unites people across boundaries and over the generations.