Rodrigo Jose González Hernández

PhD student
Oden Institute - The University of Texas at Austin


Rodrigo was born and raised in Guatemala. He became interested in science at a very young age. When he was 10, he enrolled in a local university to study a one-year program in basic astronomy, being the youngest student in the institution at the time. With the help of his parents, brother, and mentors, he learned to enjoy scientific and logical thinking. Rodrigo started working on some research projects during his undergraduate studies at Emory University.

During his senior year of college, Rodrigo submitted an honors thesis titled "Application of the Double Descent Color Intermittent Diffusion Method to a Variational Data Assimilation Problem.” Through this work, he had the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of numerical global optimization and data assimilation problems. Through these experiences in his undergraduate career, Rodrigo realized he was passionate about combining different fields in order to solve real-world problems. Seeking to learn how to approach problems arising from the natural world with rigorous mathematical techniques and modern computational tools, he decided to pursue a Ph.D.

Rodrigo also has some experience mentoring and teaching. After competing in physics Olympiads during high school, he and his mates compiled material, wrote tutorials, and set up a website so that younger students seeking to participate would have a better idea of where to start. Moreover, he was a "learning assistant" for the last two years of college. Once a week, he would meet students taking the introductory physics courses and help them solve problems suggested by the course instructor. Currently, Rodrigo is involved in developing a project that aims to help Mayan girls from Guatemala to get involved in scientific careers. This particular demographic has historically struggled to get access to this field. Therefore, he will be designing high school level mathematics workshops and participating in talks so that girls are encouraged to pursue a degree in STEM.

“[Hispanic Heritage Month] is mainly a reflection of where I come from. An invitation to not forget the struggles that characterize the history of our Hispanic countries, as well as the difficulties that I have personally gone through to get where I am. But at the same time, it is a reminder to be proud of myself and my culture, to be grateful for my family and community. Pero sobre todo, es un momento para ser optimista, y ver el futuro de nuestros pueblos con esperanza.”