Mario Banuelos is a first-generation, Chicano from the small, agricultural town of Delano, California. The son of an immigrant, he remembers helping his mother tie up grapevines and her sacrifice to provide a better life for her children. Mario received the Gates Millenium Scholarship after graduating high school and earned his B.A. in Mathematics from California State University, Fresno (Fresno State). He obtained a teaching credential from California State University, Bakersfield while teaching high school mathematics in his hometown. Mario decided to with graduate school and obtained his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Merced under the guidance of Prof. Suzanne Sindi. He joined California State University, Fresno as Assistant Professor of Mathematics in 2018. His research interests include mathematical biology, optimization, statistical models for genome evolution, and data science. Mario is passionate about undergraduate research and increasing representation in STEM. When he is not thinking about mathematics, Mario enjoys drawing, graphic design, and going to local sporting events.
Mario Banuelos and his research group focus on developing statistical and computational models that take advantage of abundant data (e.g. genomic sequencing data) to better inform biological inference and improve predictions in classification problems arising from such information. In particular, he combines modeling with optimization by leveraging information about the data (i.e., relatedness, sparsity). Mario has built mathematical and statistical models of genome evolution through the acquisition of mutations and other types of structural variation. By combining these mathematical models with publicly available genomic data sets, he infers biological parameters and thus estimates the rates of these otherwise unobservable phenomena. Using relatedness information and lower-quality data, his work concentrates on statistical modeling and inference of genomic variants between and within species. In the greater context of mathematical biology, these models lead to insight on how genomic variation responsible for hereditary diseases and genetic diversity influences human populations and evolution. Recently, Mario has worked on developing machine learning methods to address classification problems in both biology and imaging. He is currently mentoring four undergraduates and one graduate student in these research areas.
In his classes, Mario incorporates learner-centered teaching methods and assessment. Specifically, he implements active learning approaches through student-led cooperative groups. By having students participate in discussion and problem solving in a group setting, they teach each other and apply knowledge they have learned from the course. He teaches a variety of statistics and applied mathematics courses, where he emphasizes conceptual and computational understanding of the material. As a faculty member, he provides students opportunities to communicate mathematics and class projects throughout the semester. Mario believes teaching is an evolving and ongoing process that involves commitment outside of the classroom, continual evaluation of pedagogical strategies, and dedication to student growth and maturity.
Outside of the classroom, Mario works to mentor a range of undergraduate students through several organizations, including the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) by serving as a faculty advisor for both on-campus clubs. To further highlight students and professionals, he is also a member of the SIAM Workshop Celebrating Diversity group and the SACNAS Student Presentation Subcommittee.
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time of reflection and celebration of the diversity of Latinx mathematical scientists and their contributions. Sometimes we may feel like we are Ni de aquí, ni de allá, caught between our culture and our profession. This month is about building that bridge and letting others know we can cross it together.