I am a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and an incoming Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. I completed my Ph.D. in Computer Science at Cornell University, where I was advised by Jon Kleinberg. I also hold an M.S. in applied mathematics from Harvard University, an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. in mathematics from Harvard University.

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Research Interests

My research broadly falls in the fields of algorithms and AI, with a focus on equity and justice concerns. My work has provided new mathematical and computational frameworks for problems related to poverty and inequality. Specifically, I design and analyze algorithmic, optimization, and network-based techniques to improve access to opportunity for historically under-served and disadvantaged communities. I also work on human-centered approaches to mechanism design.

As part of this research mission, I co-founded and co-organize Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG), an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research initiative. My dissertation received the 2020 SIGKDD Dissertation Award and an honorable mention for the 2020 SIGecom Dissertation Award for offering foundations of this emerging area.

My work is informed by collaborations with researchers in disciplines including economics, sociology, and social work and domain experts from various government and non-government organizations. Throughout 2019, I served on the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director (ACD) Working Group on AI. Our recommendations were approved by the ACD to be enacted by the NIH. I am currently working on matching problems with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education.

Spring/Summer News and Presentations

  • Dissertation Award: SIGKDD Dissertation Award. [Slides]
  • Dissertation Award: SIGecom Dissertation Award (honorable mention).
  • MD4SG: check out the 4th MD4SG Workshop (MD4SG '20), tutorial at Data Science Africa (DSA '20), and tutorial at EC '20.
  • SIGecom: serving as the SIGecom D&I Chair and the Global Outreach Co-chair for EC '20. [Link]
  • PML4DC: co-chairing the Practical ML for Developing Countries workshop at ICLR '20. [Link]
  • Invited Talks: recently gave talks at Simons Institue (keynote), Aspen Institue Tech Policy Hub (keynote), National Institue of Nursing Research (NIH), Women in Data Science @ NYC (keynote), Microsoft Research Summit (panelist), Ontario Library Association, X4D Virtual Speaker Series, Highlights Beyond EC, Graphs and Networks Workshop @ MGGG, University of Chicago, Math, SEAS NEXUS, MIT, Princeton, UW, GaTech, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Northeastern, and Harvard.
  • Papers: MD4SG '20 on matching in Ethiopian universities, PAML @ ICML '20 on fairnes, equality, and power; PAML @ ICML '20 on algorithms & housing; IC2S2 '20 on income shocks and poverty; ML4GH @ ICML '20 on shocks and health; AAAI '20 on subsidy allocations and shocks; TheWebConf '20 and IC2S2 '20 on maternal mortality; FAT* '20 on computing and social change; ACM CI '20, PLSC '20 and Contested Data Workshop @ Data and Society on data sharing in Africa; SODA '20 on one-sided matching mechanisms.
  • In the news: my work recently appeared in ELLE, BBC News (also translated into Afaan Oromoo and Tigrinya), Atlanta Black Star, NewsOne, Face2Face Africa, African Shapers, Cornell Sun, Social Work Today, Quartz, POCIT, Tadias, Cornell Chronicle, Cornell Research, and others.
  • Track/Area Chair: ICML '20 (area chair); FAT* 20 (CS track co-chair); AAAI '20 AISI track (SPC).
  • Program Committee: EC '20 and TheWebConf '20.
  • MIT TR35: honored as a pioneer in the MIT Tech Review's 35 Under 35 list.

  • About Me

    I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -- a country known for being home to Dinkinesh (Lucy), a more sensible time convention, its own alphabet, the birthplace of coffee, and 13 months of sunshine. I am a proud graduate of the Ethiopian National Curriculum.

    I co-founded and serve on the Board of Directors for Black in AI, a transcontinental network of Black researchers and practitioners the field. Read this Forbes piece I wrote on representation, inclusion, and belonging issues on AI.