Rei Sanchez-Arias

Assistant Professor of Data Science and Assistant Chair | Department of Data Science and Business Analytics
Florida Polytechnic University


Reinaldo (Rei) Sanchez-Arias earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Universidad del Valle in Cali, Colombia. In Fall 2008 he started his doctoral studies in the Computational Science Program at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). He interned at Repsol Oil Company USA during the summer of 2011, where he worked with the Research and Innovation Geophysics Department. He obtained a Ph.D. degree in Computational Science from UTEP in the spring of 2013, working on sparse representation methods for classification problems and dimensionality reduction. He then completed a postdoctoral researcher appointment for the Army High Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC) working in reduced order models for underbody-blast simulations and data compression techniques. From 2014 to 2016, Dr. Sanchez-Arias was part of the Applied Mathematics Department at Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) in Boston, Massachusetts where he taught courses for Applied Mathematics and Engineering students. While at WIT, he was nominated and served as the Faculty Advisor for the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Student Chapter, coordinated linear algebra and capstone courses, and helped develop different elective courses in applied mathematics. In Fall 2016, Dr. Sanchez-Arias joined St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida, where he served as the Program Director for the MS in Big Data Analytics in the School of Science, advised and supervised graduate students in the School of Science, and revised curriculum for the Computer Science and Mathematics undergraduate programs. Since Fall 2018, he is with the Department of Data Science and Business Analytics (DSBA) at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland, Florida. Dr. Sanchez-Arias was the recipient of Florida Poly’s Excellence in Teaching Ablaze Award in 2020. He also currently serves as the Assistant Chair of the DSBA.

During his years at UTEP, Dr. Sanchez-Arias was involved in research projects for the AHPCRC in collaboration with a group at Stanford University. His general areas of interest include data mining and machine learning, computational linear algebra and optimization, and data science education. His work has been presented at international and national conference meetings including SIAM annual meetings, the International Conference for High Performance Computing, the IEEE International Conference of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, the IEEE International Conference in Machine Learning and Applications, and INFORMS annual meeting.

Dr. Sanchez-Arias has participated as invited and guest speaker for student chapter organizations to discuss the power of mathematics in data science applications, and he has also presented at seminars and colloquia focused on the teaching and learning of data science. While at STU, he advised Miami Dade College and second year students in applied research projects as part of the Summer Research Institute. He also worked with an undergraduate data science student as part of Purdue University’s Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) programs, URE/UCEE (Undergraduate Computational Education Experience) using nanoHUB’s resources, and together they created a tool with interactive and reproducible examples of methods in scientific computing and data analysis and their applications in science and engineering.

Dr. Sanchez-Arias gives the following advice to students, “Always stay curious and try to identify the links between different areas of mathematics, science, engineering, and all other disciplines where skills can be applied to solve interesting problems. Understand and master the fundamentals and expand your network for a much broader impact of your work.” He also tells them, “Being involved in interdisciplinary projects will allow you to learn from people in a variety of fields: you will practice how to effectively communicate with others, and can adopt techniques and other tools that can improve your work and open many doors.” Finally, he tells students “invest in yourself and find ways to give back to your community. You can inspire many people to pursue their goals.”

“Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to recognize, celebrate, and get inspired by the achievements and stories of those in my community. It is a time to celebrate our cultural richness and diversity. It is a chance to reflect on ways that we can contribute to positive change, so that all of those in our community continue to thrive.”