About Me

Hi, my name is Kristen Hallas!

I'm a 2nd year doctoral student and 1st generation scholar attending the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV). 

In Spring 2022, I earned my Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science at UTRGV, graduating Summa Cum Laude with the Highest Distinction in Honors Studies. The following fall, I began pursuing my PhD in Mathematics and Statistics with Interdisciplinary Applications. 

My research interests vary from optimizing mathematical and statistical models, developing smart manufacturing technology, enabling more reliable HPC systems, and advancing inclusive and accessible STEM education. After graduating, I hope I can keep building systems towards positive aims (like reaching a net-zero emission economy or safeguarding cyber assets) on a team dedicated to advancing scientific progress. I dream of giving back the mentorship graciously given to me throughout my journey.

I'm a graduate research assistant at the UTRGV Center for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Cyber Systems.

As a student sponsored by the Consortium of Advanced Additive Manufacturing Research and Education for Energy Related Systems (CA2REERs), I've worked on various industrial and manufacturing engineering projects. I'm optimizing a recycling facility location placement problem related to energy systems and I continue to analyze research conducted for my undergraduate honors thesis. I'm also on a team developing proprietary mixed reality (MR) software for industry partners. As a graduate student, I have presented research at the Southeastern International Conference on Combinatorics, Graph Theory & Computing and at the Institute for Industrial & System Engineers (IISE) Annual Expo. 

Over the last two summers, I have worked at national labs to learn more about High Performance Computing (HPC) systems. I interned with the HPC Security Analytics & Monitoring Group at Oak Ridge National Lab in 2022, designing an interactive Python visualization that explores the power and cooling trends of HPC system nodes, in relation to their physical location in the data center. In 2023, I worked as a Technical Research Aide for the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Lab, improving a Node.js app that renders visual analytics about the performance of simulated HPC networks. 

I enrolled in college three distinct times with three distinct majors before earning my bachelor's degree in math.

My journey to math has been quite nonlinear! Growing up, my mom, who never graduated high school, simply said, “Go to college”. Over the course of a decade, I studied psychology and education and “stopped out” of school to work in industry and entrepreneurship. All of a sudden, I found myself in a new world of applied mathematics research that I never imagined possible while growing up. Yet I believe that the experiences I had along the way to my current path has shaped me to be the dedicated, well-rounded mathematician I am today. 

As an undergraduate student at UTRGV, I was amazed at the opportunities available to me. I presented research at numerous local and national events, including the Joint Mathematics Meeting (JMM) and the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics (NCUWM). I received funding for an independent research project through the Engaged Scholar & Artist Awards and successfully defended this work as my undergraduate honors thesis. I'm a 2021 Gilman scholar and alumni and a graduate of the UTRGV Honors College.

I am a strong believer of community advocacy and the steward leadership style, and I strive to be of service in all my affairs. When I learn about something, I want to share it with the world. To that aim, I have coordinated workshops on applying to internships, building online portfolios, coding interactive dashboards, and beyond. During the 2022-2023 year, I served as Graduate Senator for Student Government Association. I also represented UTRGV on UT System's Student Advisory Council. I've been a member of local organizing committees for conferences and seminars within the UTRGV School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, and I am an officer for two student organizations: president of the UTRGV chapter of SPIE (International Society of Optics and Photonics) and vice president of WISP (Women in STEM Programs). 

My driving force is to help folks like me find success in whatever makes their heart sing, especially if it's STEM! In my free time, I like to jam to EDM, hang out with my dogs, journal, practice yoga, and visit amazing places. If you'd like to connect, please email me at kristen.hallas01@utrgv.edu or find me on LinkedIn. Thanks for reading! 🤠✌🏼

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in this world by mistake.