Careers in Mathematics

April 8th, 2024

In this virtual TED style talk you will have the opportunity to learn about trending careers in mathematics and related fields. Learn from UCLA alumni professionals and identify career paths that utilize your mathematics training.

Below is an overview of this year’s speakers. Recording of the event will be posted below. This is a joint collaboration between the UCLA Department of Mathematics and the UCLA Career Center. For questions, please contact


Sudhanshu Agrawal

Machine Learning Engineer at Qualcomm

Sudhanshu is a Machine Learning Engineer at Qualcomm AI Research. He graduated from UCLA in 2023 with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics. While at UCLA, he worked on research with the UCLA Math department on using ML techniques to solve mean field game problems and worked on research with the UCLA CS department on using generative modeling for black box optimization problems. He was an officer of ACM AI at UCLA and taught workshops on ML and deep learning. Sudhanshu also did projects with DataRes and Creative Labs while at UCLA. At Qualcomm AI, he is currently working on large language models and other generative models and is focused on developing algorithms and techniques to improve their efficiency as well as tools to allow them to be deployed on edge devices.

Eirik Bækkelund

Data Scientist at Rystad Energy

Eirik holds a BSc in Applied Mathematics from UCLA and an MSc in Machine Learning from University College London, where he conducted research under Prof. Marc Deisenroth, focusing on Gaussian processes and their application to solar nowcasting in collaboration with Open Climate Fix.

Currently, Eirik serves as a data scientist at Rystad Energy, specializing in developing an LLM for the upstream oil and gas market. Prior to this, he gained experience as a machine learning engineer at a battery hardware startup. Outside of work, he maintains his passion for soccer, having been an active student athlete at UCLA and continuing to play in the Norwegian third division for leisure.

Matt Cravets

Biostatistician & Sr. Vice President, Biometrics at Gossamer Bio

Matt has nearly 30 years of experience as a clinical biostatistician in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and has served in a variety of biostatistics and biometrics leadership roles across a wide range of therapeutic areas. He is currently Senior Vice President, Biometrics, Gossamer Bio. Before joining Gossamer Bio as the head of Biometrics in 2018, Matt was Vice President of Biometrics at Heron Therapeutics Inc. from 2016 to 2018, where he played a key role in the late-stage development programs for Zynrelef for the treatment post-surgical pain and Cinvanti for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.

Before joining Heron, Matt was Executive Director of Biometrics at Receptos Inc. from 2014-2016, where he built the biostatistics, SAS programming, and data management functions while contributing to mid- and late-stage development programs for ozanimod (Zeposia) in multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Before joining Receptos, Matt was the head of biostatistics at Ardea Biosciences from 2011-2014, building the biostatistics and SAS programming functions while also making significant contributions to the designs and analyses of late-stage studies of lesinurad (Zurampic) for the treatment of gout.

From 2003-2011 Matt served in roles of increasing responsibility in the biostatistics group at Biogen Idec Inc., contributing to the successful regulatory approvals of rituximab (Rituxan) in both rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). From 1996-2003, Matt was in the biostatistics group at Amgen, Inc., working on multiple products across various neurology, rheumatology, cardiovascular, and bone disease indications.

Matt began his career in the pharmaceutical products division of Abbott Laboratories in 1994 after completing his master’s degree in statistics at the University of Michigan and his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at UCLA. Matt also holds an MBA from Pepperdine University.

Berta Sandberg

Sr. Advisor Data Scientist at Southern California Edison

Berta Sandberg is a Sr. Advisor Data Scientist at SCE, supporting risk modeling for asset management. She has worked across diverse fields in Data Science, including influencer marketing, mobile ad space, and energy allocations. Berta led a team in developing prediction models and data aggregation for social media influencer marketing. She also developed ranking models for mobile ad space and prediction models for energy allocation markets. Before venturing into Data Science, she worked as a software engineer, developing image processing techniques for green screen technology. . She holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics from UCLA.


Dominic Diaz

PhD Student AT Cornell

Dominic Diaz is currently a fourth year PhD student at Cornell University. He started studying applied mathematics and physics at UCLA in the Fall of 2015. Over the course of his undergraduate education he joined the learning assistant program, completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates, and did research with various professors. After developing passions for teaching, machine learning, and research, he decided to pursue a PhD in applied mathematics at Cornell University. Dominic currently does research on how machine learning methods can extract mathematical models from swarming behavior (like in bugs and birds). He also fondly remembers avoiding Bruinwalk, late nights in Powell, and Rende.

Elijah Gross-Sable

Houlihan Lokey

Elijah Gross-Sable graduated UCLA in 2021 with a BS in Applied Mathematics and a Specialization in Computing. Elijah currently works in the Financial Restructuring Group at Houlihan Lokey, an independent advisory investment bank headquartered in LA. In this role, Elijah prepares financial models and other materials to help in structuring and negotiating transactions on behalf of companies and their creditors.

Teresa Rexin

Master's Student at UCSD

Teresa Rexin was raised in Sacramento County and is finishing her Master’s in Statistics at UCSD this June. She graduated from UCLA in Fall 2020 with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and minor in Statistics. While at UCLA, Teresa was an Undergraduate Researcher investigating real-world applications of networks, a peer tutor for the UCLA Statistics Club, a Technical Advisor and Data Blog Editor for DataRes, and a 2021 Chancellor’s Service Award Recipient. Teresa is interested in responsible AI/data ethics, and she has several years of experience as a Data Science Intern at Intel and Microsoft–she starts working full-time as a Data Scientist at Microsoft this fall. At UCSD, Teresa is a Teaching Assistant for the senior Data Science Capstone and introductory Principles of Data Science courses, a Graduate Researcher working on time series analysis and graphs, and a Mentorship Co-Coordinator for the Math Graduate Student Council and UCSD’s chapter of Association for Women in Mathematics. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, exploring the beaches and hiking trails in San Diego, baking and cooking new recipes, gardening, and reading.

Juan Carbajal

Software Engineer

Juan grew up in Los Angeles and Mathematics was a passion of mine from an early age. Juan arrived at UCLA in the Fall of 2016 and declared a Financial Actuarial Mathematics major. Over my time at UCLA, as he learned more about what he liked, Juan ended up pursuing Applied Mathematics instead. It was this major that introduced me to the PIC courses offered by the department, and that’s where he discovered my passion for coding. He landed my first software developer role for a nonprofit organization near the end of my fourth year, where he helped design and implement an online code editor website for students in grade school to use. After half a year working there he then spent a couple months at an internship working on an Android/iOS puzzle game. This short work led to me being offered a Co-Founder position as a Software Engineer for this newfound startup company called Trivial. Juan took the offer and spent about 15 months building up this new integration platform while our CEO sought funding. Now, with a bit of experience under my belt, he just recently began searching for a new role in Software Engineering.

Daniel Gutierrez

AMULET Analytics

Daniel D. Gutierrez is a practicing data scientist who’s been working with data long before the field came into vogue. As a technology journalist, he enjoys keeping a pulse on this fast-paced industry. Daniel is also an educator having taught data science class at UCLA Extension for a number of years. He has authored four computer industry books on database and data science technology, including his most recent title, “Machine Learning and Data Science: An Introduction to Statistical Learning Methods with R.” Daniel holds a BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from UCLA.

Vikas Thakur


Vikas (Vik) Thakur is a Vice President in Partnerships and Alliances at Genpact – a global professional services firm that drives digital-led innovation and digitally embedded intelligent operations for global clients (really fancy words for applying technology to improve client operations).  Vik’s first summer job while he was an undergraduate Math major at UCLA was as an Orange Juice Taster for a local juice company.  Applying analytic techniques he learned at UCLA, Vik improved the juice blending process to create a more consistent quality product.  This awakened a passion in him to help organizations “work smarter, not harder”.  Vik pursued his passion by becoming a Transformation Consultant to help organizations improve their performance.  He worked for major consulting firms, such as Deloitte Consulting and Genpact, to help clients rethink their approach to operations.  He also worked for major companies like Exxon, Bank of America, and Countrywide Financial to help lead the change from within.  Vik holds a BS in Mathematics / Applied Science and an MBA from UCLA.

Penny Zhang

UCLA Investment Company

Penny Zhang is currently an Investment Analyst at the UCLA Investment Company. Ms. Zhang works closely with the investment team to conduct portfolio analysis and provide directors with manager due diligence support. Prior to joining the UCLA Investment Company, Ms. Zhang gained operational experience within the insurance service industry, where she focused on marketing and risk management process automation. Additionally, she interned for Barron’s China as a Research Assistant and JUMP Investors as a Venture Capital Analyst. Ms. Zhang received a BA in Mathematics and Economics from UCLA.

Rand Waltzman

RAND Corporation

Dr. Rand Waltzman has created, planned and managed major research and development programs (> $100 M) on the application of massive scale data analytics in the areas of insider threat detection and social media. He is currently Deputy Chief Technology Officer at RAND Corporation. Previous positions include CTO (acting) and Associate Director of Research of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Program Manager at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), Chief Scientist in the Distributed Systems Lab of Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories and Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden. His 41-year career in Artificial Intelligence started in 1983 as a Knowledge Engineer at Teknowledge Corporation, the world’s first commercial Artificial Intelligence company.

Wendy Chou Le

ROI Science Lab

Wendy Chou Le, UCLA ’88 BS in Math Applied Science/Computer Science. Wendy is the principle consultant at ROI Science Lab, and currently serves full time as the Digital Growth Lead for HOMEPOP, a leading accent furniture brand across major retail channels including Amazon, Wayfair, and Target. Her favorite motto: I thrive on helping stakeholders make informed decisions through data to grow their business and improve profits. Wendy lives in the Inland Empire with her UCLA alumni husband and their 12-yr old son. She and her husband first came to know each other in Math 32H in their freshmen year and met again by the now defunct Lecture Notes.

Robert Hannah

Citadel Securities

Robert Hannah moved from Australia to complete a PhD in mathematics at UCLA, specializing in parallel optimization. After interning at Microsoft and Microsoft research, he accepted a position as a quantitative researcher at Citadel Securities, one of the largest market makers in the world. He currently works there in the portfolio optimization team, where he uses a combination of mathematics, data science, programming, and machine learning to optimize medium-term trading strategies.

Emily Surrell

Resolution Economics

Emily recently graduated from UCLA in June 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics with a Specialization in Computing. Since her graduation, she has been employed with Resolution Economics, where she analyzes employer data related to class action lawsuits such as meal and rest break, off-the-clock work, and regular rate of pay claims.  Her work is often used in expert reports that Courts rely on when reaching legal conclusions. Outside of work, Emily enjoys baking cookies, taking ballet barre classes on Zoom, and knitting.


*Only two out of the four speakers were recorded. For questions about the two speakers not previewed, please contact Thank you.