Rafael was a visitng scholar at UC Berkeley as he obtained his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the Technical University of Milan. His research focused on network-scale sediment connectivity modeling. During his period as visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, Rafael developed a sediment transport model for large tributaries of the Mekong. He applied that model to explore optimal configurations of dams sites that maximize hydropower production while minimizing cumulative sediment trapping in these rivers. Before his Ph.D. Rafael received a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering and a B.Sc. in Environmental Science (both from ETH Zurich) and worked on river morphology and water resources management and engineering in various sectors and geographic settings.