Dominiquo D. Santistevan portrait
2018-2019 Luce Scholar

Dominiquo Santistevan graduated from MIT in 2017 where he received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. From the city of Pueblo, Colorado, Niquo dreamed of becoming a theoretical mathematician; it wasn’t until arriving at MIT that he was exposed to the world of data science and artificial intelligence as well as the world beyond the U.S. border. Data science allowed him to explore his environment in a new way. Through the lens of data science, he was able to ground his questioning of human-environmental interactions with empirical data. Curiosity about other cultures led him to spend a year at the University of Cambridge through the Cambridge-MIT Exchange program. That winter he interned in Paris analyzing pollution data to predict the infamous pollution spikes that shrouded the city in a haze.

Back at MIT, he performed research with his advisor, Yan Leng, in the Human Dynamics Lab of the MIT Media Lab. He studied the Familiar Stranger Phenomenon, which concerns people who often share physical proximity but have no direct interactions. Using anonymized cell phone data provided by the Government of Andorra, he inferred these physical interactions and social networks between callers, and this in turn helped quantify the likelihood of future social interactions between two callers as well as identify common geospatial communication channels throughout the country. This work was presented at NetMob 2017, the leading conference for mobile phone data analysis. At the Makerere University Artificial Intelligence laboratory in Kampala, Uganda, Niquo conducted research on image recognition and its applications, using mobile phone photos to diagnose cassava leaves for diseases such as cassava mosaic virus. Currently, Niquo is spending a year in Santiago, Chile working at Adolfo Ibañez University’s GovLab. Working at the intersection of big data and public policy, he and his GovLab colleagues are bringing data-driven decision making to Chilean legislature. Niquo plans to pursue a doctoral degree in Social Computing, a multidisciplinary field linking social science and data science. When not in front of his computer, Niquo enjoys frequenting jazz clubs in whichever city he’s in, listening for foreign twists on American Jazz Standards.