Wilka Carvalho
Aspiring Cognitive Scientist


My name is Wilka1 Torrico De Carvalho and I am a Black & Hispanic, socially sensitive, aspiring cognitive scientist. My long-term goal is to develop theories for human learning and generalization. In particular, I’m interested in how we discover and exploit richly structured representations to enable sophisticated behavior and rapid adaptation. Some long-horizon goal-posts I’ve set to guide intermediary research and skill acquisition include:

Towards this end, I am currently pursuing a PhD in Machine Learning at the University of Michigan where I focus on weak inductive biases for object-centric deep reinforcement learning. My advisors are Honglak Lee, Satinder Singh, and Richard Lewis.

Here are my publications and this is my Google Scholar. Here is a third-person bio. If you’re curious, here is my Intellectual Autobiography in spoken word form.



I work on unsupervised representation learning and reinforcement learning. If you are interested in those topics and want to work with me or be mentored by me, please email me your CV and a brief 1-2 paragraph description including

I especially encourage underrepresented students to contact me. It’s challenging to grow intellectually without a good source of guidance.


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) studying the mind, 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!

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