I want to understand you

but I feel frustrated
because I don't know how to

but it's okay
because since you're a brain
I just need to feed you your data
and you'll understand yourself

and since you're within me
if I listen closely, I will as well

Wilka Carvalho
Aspiring Brain and Machine Learning Scientist


My name is Wilka1 Torrico De Carvalho and I am an Afro-Latino, socially sensitive, aspiring brain and machine learning scientist. I am currently a PhD Student in Computer Science at the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor and an NSF graduate research fellow in neuroscience exploring principled methods of analyzing the mind and brain. Among those which excite me most are

  1. Bayesian nonparametric methods for its ability to specify methods by which humans might define (potentially) infinite hidden variables in response to observed data;
  2. reinforcement learning for its ability to elucidate how humans may place value on what they encounter in attempts to optimize their experience; and
  3. artificial neural networks for their potential to give insight into how neural networks can incorporate mechanisms for learning hidden variables into their topology.

My long term goal is to develop and advance unified theoretical models for cognition, behavior, and learning that I may corroborate through experimental work with humans and through AI-based computer simulations. Here are some behavioral questions that I plan to tackle with my research.

If you’re curious, here is my Intellectual Autobiography in spoken word form.


As a member of groups underrepresented in research and academia, outreach is important to me. I encourage all young scholars (especially those from marginalized backgrounds) to reach out to me with any questions. Relevant topics include (but are not limited to) pursuing computational methods of studying the mind and brain, pursuing undergraduate research, applying for fellowships, and graduate school. Lastly, increasing minority representation in STEM is important to me. Please feel free to reach out if this applies to you or if you are organizing any relevant programs.

Feel free to contact me at wcarvalho92[at]gmail.com

I also maintain a collection of resources for

Last, here are some papers I want to read, am reading, or have read, along with some notes. For whoever might find this useful!


February, 2018 A workshop paper from my internship at IBM, “Detecting Backdoor Attacks on Deep Neural Networks by Activation Clustering” won best paper!

September, 2018 Received Co-Curricular Experiences Award to attend the Annual Ideagen UN Empowering Women & Girls 2030 Summit by invitation from Microsoft Research.
July, 2018 The University of Michigan published an article about me, “Exploring the source of social stereotypes”!
April, 2018: I have been selected to be a participant in the 6th Heidelberg Laureate Forum!
March, 2018: A patent has been submitted based on my work at IBM!
February, 2018

October, 2017: A patent has been submitted based on my ICLR publication!
May, 2017: I will be a machine learning research intern at IBM this Fall!
April, 2017

March, 2017

February, 2017: Our paper, “Variational Recurrent Adversarial Deep Domain Adaptation” was accepted to ICLR!

  1. I am named after Pablo Willka Zarate, an indigenous Bolivian revolutionary that led one of the largest indigenous rebellions in Bolivia’s history.