I am a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows and an incoming Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley EECS. 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 SEAS, an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. in mathematics from Harvard University.

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, data-driven, discrete optimization, and network-based techniques to improve access to opportunity for historically disadvantaged communities.

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 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. (See Report.)

Spring News and Presentations

  • Diss Award: my dissertation received a SIGecom Dissertation Award (honorable mention).
  • EC: global outreach co-chair at EC '20. [Link]
  • PML4DC: co-chairing the practical ML for developing countries workshop at ICLR '20. [Link]
  • Talks: recently gave talks at SEAS NEXUS, MIT, Princeton, UW, GaTech, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Northeastern, and Harvard.
  • Papers: PAML @ ICML '20 on fairnes, equality, and power; PAML @ ICML '20 on algorithms & housing; IC2S2 '20 & ML4GH @ ICML '20 on income shocks, poor health, and poverty; AAAI '20 on income shocks and allocations; 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.