Jessica J. Santana

Jessica J. Santana

CRML Affiliated Faculty

Assistant Professor, Technology Management Program



Machine learning is a powerful tool for uncovering latent variables driving societal behavior. Managing this tool, however, requires understanding its limitations and its influence on research subjects. Jessica J. Santana studies these sociological effects and leverages machine learning in her research on the role of networks in innovation and entrepreneurship. In one study, she extended machine learning techniques to analyze longitudinal commitment of investors to startups and entrepreneurs in a multilayer network, introducing a novel metric for analyzing divergent graphs that disentangles exchange commitment across complex networks. In another study, she employed machine learning techniques to predict participation in an online field experiment that measured the effect of the sharing economy on trust behavior. She is increasingly interested in the application of machine learning in text mining to answer questions such as how failure rhetoric influences the recovery of social capital in peer networks and persistence in entrepreneurship, and to predict the emergence of cultures of ethics in genetic engineering and other innovator communities.


Jessica J. Santana is an Assistant Professor in the Technology Management Program at UC Santa Barbara. Her recent research explored how entrepreneurs use peers and rhetoric to navigate sensemaking and stigma following startup failure. She also investigates the relationship between innovation and ethics in contexts such as synthetic biology and cryptocurrency crowdfunding. Her work is driven by insights from organizational theory, economic sociology, social psychology, and network science. She relies on a variety of methodological approaches, including experimental, statistical, and computational analyses. Her research is informed by her prior experience working in the types of organizations she studies, from Silicon Valley startups to Nicaraguan farming cooperatives. She holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University and a Master of Information Management and Systems from UC Berkeley’s School of Information, with certification in the Management of Technology from the Haas School of Business.