Early years

I was born in Tampico, Mexico, a tropical city by the warm shores of the Gulf of Mexico. I am the fifth in a family of seven: two parents, two brothers, two sisters. Growing up in a large family was very enriching. I was annoyed/cared by my older siblings as I annoyed and took care of my younger siblings, but we always loved each other. In my extended family, you're either a teacher or a doctor. Both my parents are high-school teachers. I learned from them that in times of struggle, perseverance and hard work is a must. And for as long as I can remember, they always encouraged me to reach higher goals.


Monterrey and its factories
At the age of seventeen, I moved to the industrial city of Monterrey (northern Mexico) to study Physics engineering at ITESM. There I met many of my geeky-yet-not-so-much physicist friends. I have the most cherish memories from that time. Endless study hours solving equations, writing for so long to make your wrist hurt. 
During my third year  I started moving from here to there continuously. First, a six month exchange program to the Physics department at UIUC. Then a two year program with France's EPF École d'Ingénieurs, where I quietly dumped Physics and embraced Software Architecture. In my experience, French are tough.  Or at least, French software teachers are tough. But I learned not only to speak French, but to learn as a French, toughen up like a French and deliver results as a French. At the end, one of my professors told me he didn't expected a foreign student to go that far.  But I did.
As a final carreer project (projet de fin d'étude), I did some research in multi-agent simulation of car traffic with my (currently) advisor Leonardo Garrido which awarded my first publication ever.


After graduating from both Mexican and French schools, I took a six-month leave ( from anything related to my area of expertise) and went to Washington D.C. to do something I liked but had never tried: International Relations. I was part of something called the NAFTA Leader's program, in which we attended seminars about international politics, trade and regulations. We met politicians, activists, intellectuals. Sometimes there were heated debates about international policy, and I learned a lot from my American and Canadian peers' point of view. I also did an internship at the Food Security Department at Counterpart International, a NPO, where I learned to listen to others' needs.

Back in Monterrey, I started working as a software consultant for a big IT company. There I met my (now) wife Gloria. I enjoyed the first months of this experience, but it didn't take me long to realize that I was in the wrong place for me.  Then, Garrido invited me to join the PhD program at ITESM. He even suggested Statis
tical Machine Translation as a thesis subject. The idea of SMT clicked immediately. I was no stranger to foreign languages. Heck, I love foreign languages. Thus, bringing together many of my interests together (complex math, computer algorithms and language) was a tempting bait, and I bit.


I started my PhD in 2006  with no specific idea of a thesis subject. My original idea was to bring together multiagent technology (which I kind of mastered) to the language processing. But things change, interests morph, and in the end I dropped the multiagent part. Thus, I was suddenly alone. In a University that does minimal NLP research (besides Speech, of course), in a country where MT is not popular at all. I spent my first years as a pariah, trying to go to language processing workshops, networking with people in the area. At a conference (MICAI 2007), I met Jon Clark from CMU who contacted me with his advisor Alon Lavie, who I later met at a conference in Israel (2008).  With Alon, we arranged a one-year visit to CMU in 2008. Life works in misterious ways...

At CMU, I ended up working with Stephan Vogel and his team in the GALE project. This period was like a lifesaver in my PhD track. I learned in weeks many things that in other circumstances would have taken me years. I had constant discussions, feed-back and support. All of which I missed terribly going back to Monterrey.

Nowadays, I'm back and ready to finish. Few types here and there, but my thesis should be ready in no time. Let's see what happens next...