Ngozi Okidegbe joins the Law and CDS Faculty at BU

Boston University is proud to welcome Ngozi Okidegbe as associate professor of law and assistant professor of computing & data sciences—the first dual-appointed professor to the School of Law and the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences.

The author of scholarly work at the intersection of Law and Computing Technologies, including Discredited Data (2022), The Democratizing Potential of Algorithms? (2021), and When They Hear Us: Race, Algorithms, and the Practice of Criminal Law (2020), Ngozi’s research is in the areas of criminal procedure, evidence, technology, and racial justice. Her recent work explores the ways in which the use of predictive technologies in the criminal justice system impact racially marginalized communities.

Commenting on her appointment, Professor Mayank Varia who directs the Hub for Civic Tech Impact in CDS said: “We are excited to welcome Ngozi as a colleague and a collaborator who will provide legal and social context for much of the Civic Tech work we pursue in CDS.”

Professor Okidegbe graduated with a B.C.L./LL.B from McGill University’s Faculty of Law, where she was awarded the Edwin Botsford Busteed Scholarship, the Rosa B. Gualtieri Prize, the Daniel Mettarlin Memorial Scholarship, and the Schull Yang Award. She subsequently earned her LL.M from Columbia Law School, where she graduated as a James Kent Scholar.

In a statement to The Record of BU Law, Professor Azer Bestavros, Associate Provost for Computing & Data Sciences notes that “Ngozi’s joint appointment at Law School and in CDS could not be more timely as it speaks to the importance of examining and scrutinizing today’s sociotechnical and human-in-the-loop AI systems and technologies for a better tomorrow. This scrutiny allows us not only to reimagine the design and deployment of these systems but also to reconsider the ethical, legal, and public policy frameworks within which these systems will operate.”

To that point, Varia notes that “Ngozi’s scholarship provides vital grounding and connection to the data science research and teaching in CDS. Her work shows both the potential and pitfalls of data and algorithms: how they offer an opportunity to provide a voice to previously-excluded communities, but when used improperly could also exacerbate existing racial and socioeconomic inequities and injustices.”

For a while now, BU has been championing this integrative approach to computing and legal scholarship, which is essential for informed decision-making by judges, regulators, policymakers, and the tech industry. In a post on social media, Bestavros notes that “given the truly integrative nature of her scholarship, it is only befitting for Ngozi Okidegbe to be the first jointly appointed faculty in CDS, broadening and deepening our wonderful collaboration with Boston University School of Law,  adding that “we are delighted to welcome Ngozi to BU and proud to have her as a colleague.”