Ahmed Ghappour and Portia Pedro Named BU Peter Paul Career Development Professors

Professorships provide funding for research ranging from driverless car safety to Buddhist religious history.

Portia Pedro and Ahmed Ghappour were name BU Peter Paul Career Development ProfessorsFor her PhD law dissertation at Yale, Portia Pedro studied judges’ procedural decisions, probing hot-button topics like abortion, voting rights, and prison reform.

Now an associate professor in the School of Law, Pedro will continue her work exploring the ways judicial incentives and the design of the court system affect marginalized groups, thanks to a recent honor. Pedro has been chosen to receive a Peter Paul Career Development Professorship, an annual award that includes funding to support the work of promising young academics. “This is really unheard of, especially for junior faculty,” says Pedro, a Harvard Law School graduate. “I am through the roof, really thrilled and excited. This support will allow us to do a more robust inquiry.”

Over the next several years, Pedro expects to publish a series of articles, growing out of her Yale dissertation, systematizing the study of civil procedure, exploring how judges make procedural decisions and how procedural law develops. She says it is work that is inspired by her experience working as a litigator representing same-sex couples who wanted to get married in New Jersey.

Pedro is one of eight junior faculty who have been recognized this fall with a Career Development Professorship, all made possible by the support of a group of distinguished donors and alumni. The professorships are awarded annually to junior faculty who have been identified as future leaders in their respective fields.

“We are extremely proud of this year’s class of Career Development Professors,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “Whether advancing our understanding of law and culture, bridging disciplines to produce life-changing innovations in technology and medicine, or working to improve the quality of health coverage for our most vulnerable, all are making impressive strides and emerging as early leaders in their fields. They are doing very good work, and we are excited to support their progress.”

Five junior faculty have been selected to receive Peter Paul Career Development Professorships. Made possible through the support of BU trustee Peter Paul (Questrom’71), the professorships are given to outstanding junior faculty University-wide and provide funding to support research and scholarly or creative work for three years.

In addition to Pedro, this year’s Peter Paul Professorships go to Megan Cole, a School of Public Health assistant professor of health law, policy, and management, who studies healthcare coverage for Medicaid and safety-net populations, with a focus on how state and federal reform efforts affect the quality and equity for these groups; former Silicon Valley software developer Ahmed Ghappour, a LAW associate professor of law and an expert in the modern surveillance state and cybersecurity; Victor Kumar, a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of philosophy, whose research interests include ethics, moral philosophy, and psychology and who recently launched an interdisciplinary Mind and Morality Lab in the philosophy department to explore ethics questions; and Charlene Ong, a School of Medicine assistant professor of neurology, who is working to create a personalized risk assessment for stroke patients through the development of a comprehensive diagnostic imaging tool using artificial intelligence.

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