Student Profile: Kitty Moraes uses data science to deepen her sociology research

Monday, Aug 12, 2019
by Sharon Adarlo

Kitty Moraes, age 21, Class of 2019Kitty Moraes, age 21, Class of 2019

Studies:

Moraes graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and the Undergraduate Certificate in Statistics and Machine Learning (SML), awarded by the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning (CSML).

Research:

For her independent project for the SML certificate - which was also her senior thesis, Moraes looked at the impact of bilingual education programs on the intergenerational transmission of educational attainment. Basically, Moraes explained, she was trying to ascertain whether there was a difference in a student’s educational trajectory compared to their parents depending on whether or not the student took part in a bilingual education program. 

Her research didn’t focus on any particular ethnicity, and the data set she used was taken from the 1997 edition of the federally-funded National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The survey looked at men and women born between 1980 and 1984.

For her research, Moraes said she used data science tools such as multivariate regression to answer her main question on the relationship between the number of years a student attained in schooling versus their parents, and an interaction term to look at the relationships between parents' education and a student’s participation in a bilingual program. She also looked at the level of education students earned, such as college completion, some college and other categories. 

Her findings suggest a weak, positive relationship between bilingual education and intergenerational educational mobility, and this relationship would likely be most influential for families in which the parent has a high-school education. Slight differences between native and non-native English speakers were also revealed.

This project was emblematic of Moraes' overlapping interest on how groups of people interact and data science.

“I came to Princeton not knowing what to do. I found sociology first,” she said, explaining her choice of major. “I liked how sociology focuses on real world problems, which would be applicable to any area of life: from education to business. It’s important to know how groups think and people's relationship with each other. I found it very interesting.”

One of the required classes for sociology was a statistics course, which piqued her interest in pursuing the SML certificate. 

“I really liked my classes. I enjoyed them all. Data science is something I can use in my research,” she said. “The qualitative and quantitative aspects gave a richer picture into my research. They are both important,” she said. 

After graduating, Moraes assumed the position of consulting analyst for Accenture.

“I am hoping to be able to use the skills I learned in the CSML program in a business context,” she said.

As for any future plans, Moraes said she may want to pursue a MBA, but wants to work for a few years and figure out her next steps.

Extracurricular activities:

Moraes was the Hermanitas Chair and an alumni liaison for Princeton Latinos y Amigos. The Hermanitas position involved bringing women in the group together for events. She was a research assistant for the New Jersey Families Study. Moraes was also involved in the Princeton Association for Women in STEM. She was in charge of the mentorship program where older students are paired with younger students on campus.

For fun:

Moraes likes to work out, especially running. And she enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.