Rediet Abebe is the first black woman to earn PhD in computer science from the Cornell University


The Story Behind Rediet Abebe, Harvard Society of Fellows

2019 Innovator Under 35: She uses algorithms and AI to fight socioeconomic inequality

Rediet Abebe

The 28 years old Ethiopian scientist Rediet Abebe completed a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from Cornell University, following various degrees Mathematics from Harvard University and Cambridge University. She holds MS degrees from Cornell and Harvard as well as an MA from the University of Cambridge and a BA from Harvard College, both in mathematics.

She is specialized in algorithms and artificial intelligence and has become the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cornell University in the United States. 

Dr. Abebe cofounds Black in AI and was a Junior Fellow of Harvard Society of Fellows. She has also a strong interest in the promotion of equality and justice, and use her time on improving access to opportunity for historically marginalized and underserved communities. She and co-organizes Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG).


She recently appeared in the Bloomberg 50 list as a “one to watch.”, and has been covered by Forbes, The Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, and The Washington Post. H

In September 2019, she presented how to use search queries to understand health issues in Africa.

She said that her interest in social problems roots back to Ethiopia where she recognized inequality as a daily issue.

“Addis Ababa is a very beautiful city,” Abebe said. “It’s something that’s really shaped my identity as a person, as a researcher.”

She studied at the University of Cambridge for one year and received a Master of Advanced Studies in Mathematics degree.

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