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Stanford Names 12 Tech Ethics & Policy Fellows

The fellows will work across various government agencies, think tanks, and legislative offices in Washington, D.C., to better understand how the U.S. government enacts tech policy.

A grid of photos of the Tech Ethics and Policy Fellows

Stanford HAI is pleased to announce the inaugural class of Tech Ethics & Policy Summer Fellows. Twelve Stanford graduate students have been selected to work across various government agencies, think tanks, and legislative offices in Washington, D.C., to better understand how the U.S. government enacts tech policy.

The program is sponsored by Stanford HAI and the Stanford Ethics, Society, and Technology (EST) Hub at the McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society. Students will learn about responsible technology and policy on campus in the spring quarter, and then be matched with a host organization, from the National Science Foundation to the AI Center for Excellence at the U.S. General Services Administration, for a full-time summer fellowship.

“The D.C. ecosystem lacks the technical expertise needed to make informed decisions on AI policy,” says Stanford HAI Policy and Society Director Russell Wald. “Our Stanford fellows will not only bring their technical skills to the policy community, but they will also develop an appreciation for the challenges in governing such fast-moving emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.”

In this program, students will gain a better understanding of the tech policy community and how ideas become law; explore potential public service career opportunities; build connections to a D.C. network; and apply their technical skills toward supporting tech policy from a human-centered perspective.

Stanford HAI oversees the graduate student track. An additional 14 students were selected by the EST Hub for an undergraduate track to study the intersections of technology, policy, and social impact.

Meet the Fellows:

Beleicia Bullock: PhD Computer Science 

Beleicia studies human-computer interaction and explores how we design online spaces that align with societal values like equity and care. She has worked on projects ranging from developing an activity module for a computer science ethics curriculum to exploring challenges around equitable recommendation systems. Currently, she works on projects around building equitable online communities. 

Brendan Fereday: PhD Developmental and Psychological Sciences (Education)

Brendan is currently a graduate fellow at Stanford HAI and a research assistant for the Chariot Lab at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. His work explores how text-based machine learning can capture and explain variation in constructs like purpose, executive function, and well-being. Before attending graduate school, he was an elementary teacher at Title I schools in Santa Barbara.

Avi Gupta: BA Political Science, MS Computer Science 

Avi’s background in AI engineering and public policy informs his passion for public service at the intersection of technology, policy, and law. His past experiences include a legislative internship in the D.C. office of Sen. Ron Wyden, a public policy internship at the Oversight Board, and AI engineering internships at Facebook, IBM Research, and Intel. As a founding member of nonprofit LifeMech, Avi developed the user interface for a low-cost, FDA-authorized ventilator during the COVID-19 pandemic. Avi was named a 2022 Truman Scholar in recognition of his public service achievements and leadership potential.

Liana Keesing: BS/MS Electrical Engineering, Minor in Physics

Liana is passionate about the intersection of democracy and emerging technology. Her thesis focuses on the ethical design of “smart” home surveillance systems, and her past work experiences have taken her from the vineyards of California, installing mesh-networked sensors of her own design as co-founder and CTO of an agtech startup, to Montpellier, France, researching cache microarchitecture design at LIRMM. She co-led Stanford’s Democracy Day in 2022 and serves on the national advisory board of the Haas Center for Public Service. She was selected as the 2022 Truman Scholar from Virginia for her leadership, academic achievement, and dedication to public service.

Saurabh Khanna: PhD Education Policy

Saurabh’s research spans two dimensions. First, he studies social and economic networks and their interplay with human development indicators in the context of developing nations. He works with Prashant Loyalka (Graduate School of Education) on investigating segregation in college in both student-student and faculty-student social networks, and with Susan Athey (Graduate School of Education) on tackling COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the developing world. Second, he works on algorithmic fairness, misinformation, and the diversity of knowledge accessed online in an increasingly digitized world. In this regard, Saurabh is building Sonder, an open-source web search platform that dynamically quantifies how much information we are missing out on when browsing the internet.

Haley Lepp: PhD Education 

Haley studies the ways communities innovate to maintain knowledge, especially in high-adversity settings such as conflict, natural disasters, and displacement. Her research interests also include the impacts of natural language processing in education, techno-solutionism, and movements of diversity and ethics in computing. Haley has worked as an NLP engineer at Educational Testing Service, international developer advocate at the Wikimedia Foundation, and digital curriculum designer at World Learning (Iraq programs).

Kenna McRae: MS Bioengineering

As a scientist, Kenna has researched and studied topics ranging from biophysics and tissue engineering to neuroengineering and computational biology, including through internships at the Mayo Clinic and Harvard as a Harvard-Amgen Scholar. She recently graduated with an MA in bioethics and science policy and a certificate in global health from Duke University, where she was involved with the Center on Risk and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. She worked on digital health policy as a 2022 Pathways Intern at the FDA Digital Health Center of Excellence, including policy related to a public health emergency and to AI-enabled medical devices. Beyond her work at the FDA, Kenna has conducted research and policy work in global health and cyberbiosecurity. Throughout her career, she hopes to drive vibrant conversations and informed policy that tackles ethical challenges surrounding emerging technology and advances opportunity and well-being for people and the planet. 

Michelle Qin: BS/MS Computer Science

Michelle is motivated by the profound impacts that technology and innovation can have on society and believes that these impacts are only unlocked, and even accelerated, through thoughtful guidance and policies. She is a research assistant at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where she conducts medical AI research by adapting the neural network model CLIP to perform expert-level detections on chest X-ray pathologies. Additionally, she is a research assistant at Stanford RegLab (Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab), where she is working on a computer vision project to monitor and evaluate CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, in order to better regulate methane emissions. Michelle has also interned as a software engineer at companies including Slack and Bloomberg, and has launched her own side projects ranging from consumer software to knowledge management apps.

Parth Sarin: MS Computer Science 

In their time at Stanford, Parth has taken courses in theoretical and applied mathematics about probability, geometry, and machine learning. They’ve worked with a number of local and state agencies including the city of East Palo Alto, the State of California, and the cities of Chicago and Bryan, Texas, where they have applied computation to open-ended problems including housing market simulations, modeling student achievement and growth, and econometric policy evaluation. Parth also co-manages and fundraises to support a course about AI they’re teaching to students from Title I high schools. Along with a team of 10 people spanning five disciplines, Parth designs curriculum and builds computer systems to facilitate learning that’s more social, even asynchronously.

Regina Ta: BS Symbolic Systems and Comparative Literature, MS Computer Science 

Regina has conducted research in digital humanities, election litigation, and gender; taught courses on writing and coding; and evaluated strategies for business development at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw. In these roles, she leveraged both qualitative and quantitative decision-making, and also learned to break down problems, consult with students and stakeholders, and deliver informed recommendations. She is passionate about bridging knowledge gaps and collaborating with cross-functional teams, and plans to attend law school next fall with a focus on technology law.

Learn more about Stanford HAI fellowship opportunities.