Carnegie Mellon University

K&L Gates Presidential Fellowship

The K&L Gates Presidential Fellowship supports up to three doctoral students every year whose studies relate to the field of ethics and computational science and technology; their work often asks how humans interact with technology, how we foresee and respond to the unintended consequences of our work, and how we ensure that technology is used to benefit humanity, individually and as a society. 

The Fellowship is part of the $10 million gift to establish the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies and other endowed funds at Carnegie Mellon University. Most of the gift will be used to support the university in furthering scientific and scholarly research and education about the ethical and policy issues that arise from advances in artificial intelligence and other computational technologies. In addition to the fellowship, the support will create new faculty positions, a prize towards a graduating senior, and the biennial CMU K&L Gates Conference on Ethics and AI.

Recipients are chosen from amongst all seven colleges by a Faculty Advisory Committee. Should you be more interested in the nomination and selection process, please reach out to K&L Gates Advisory Committee Chairs, David Danks and Illah Nourbakhsh.

2020-2021 Recipient Biographies

Amanda Coston earned a B.S.E from Princeton University, where she majored in computer science with a certificate in the Princeton School of Public Policy and International Affairs.  After graduating she worked at Microsoft, Teneo, and the Nairobi-based start-up Hivisasa. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Machine Learning and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University under the guidance of Alexandra Chouldechova and Edward H. Kennedy.

Her research considers human-centered predictive analytics from the lens of causal inference. 

Drawing upon techniques from causal inference, she has proposed methods for the modeling and evaluation of decision support systems that account for their interventional nature. She is currently analyzing algorithmic bias in consumer lending systems and in data-driven policy responses to COVID-19.


Helen (Shuxuan) Zeng received her Bachelor’s degree in Statistics and Mathematics from the University of Hong Kong (2016). After graduating, she attended graduate school at Columbia University where she received her Master’s degree in Data Science (2018). She is now a PhD student in Information System and Management at Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, advised by Prof. Michael D. Smith and Prof. Brett Danaher.

Helen is broadly interested how data could be used to solve problems of societal interest. Her work sits at the intersection of data science, econometrics and laws. So far her research has been using econometrics and machine learning techniques to study the impact of federal laws and the online commercial sex advertising on human trafficking. Her work in this area, which studied the impact of a federal anti-trafficking law on violence against women, was awarded the Suresh Konda First Ph.D. Research Paper (2020) and was presented on Statistical Challenges in Electronic Commerce Research. She is currently working with several AI companies to study the impact of online markets’ disruption on trafficking of international victims and human sex trafficking broadly. "


Alejandra Arciniegas was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s in philosophy at the top university of Columbia, Universidad Nacional de Colombia. There Arciniegas learned the value of listening to a plurality of voices from different social backgrounds and life experiences; I will always treasure my time there. Interdisciplinary approaches have always interested me, from psychology and the cognitive sciences to economics and, of course, philosophy and ethics. That led me to the philosophy PhD program at CMU, which prides itself on supporting interdisciplinary approaches in philosophy. Research at the intersection of ethics and new technologies was a perfect fit. My current interests are focused on the nature of privacy and consent in the digital age, which I believe is an issue that affects us all in profound ways that we are only just beginning to fully understand. Coming to the US was both as challenging and as rewarding as I expected. The hardest thing was to learn not to hug people hello... In my willingness to show affection to those who want it, I will always be Colombian at heart.