Meet Our JSD Candidates

Mr. Tsung-Chun Chen

Mr. Tsung-Chun Chen (Taiwan)
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Topic: Can Civil Disobedience Defend Liberal Constitutional Democracy? A Historical Analysis of Democratic Taiwan (2006–2021)
Thesis Advisor: Jason Mazzone

Before coming to Illinois, Tsung-Chun Chen obtained his undergraduate degree from Central Police University (Taiwan) and his LL.M. degrees from both Soochow University (Taiwan) and the University of Iowa. He has worked as a research assistant at the University of Iowa, and as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Illinois. Outside the academic field, Tsung-Chun has served in various law enforcement agencies in Taiwan for over fifteen years. His law enforcement career includes being a member of the Premier’s Security Detail during the Sunflower Student Movement. This experience inspired his interest in resistance and civil disobedience.

Tsung-Chun’s academic interests include constitutional law and theory, civil disobedience, liberalism, and critical theory. His dissertation is about the descriptive study of civil disobedience in defending the thick notion of liberal constitutional democracy in Taiwan.


Mr. Howard Jyun-Syun Li (Taiwan)
Curriculum Vitae
Dissertation Topic:
The Psychological Barrier in the Environmental Goods Mechanism
Thesis Advisor: Arden Rowell

Jyun-Syun Li (Howard) is currently a JSD Candidate at the University of Illinois College of Law. His research interests include public international law, environmental law, international environmental law, behavioral law and economics, and law and psychology. During the JSD program, he works as a research assistant for Professor Arden Rowell and also works as an assistant editor for Transnational Environmental Law and editorial assistant for the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal.

Before joining the program, Howard received his LLM in the international legal study at Georgetown University Law Center with an international human rights certificate. He also acquired an LLM and an LLB in laws from Soochow University in Taiwan.

Ms. Napaskamol Tantanawong

Ms. Napaskamol (Pin) Tantanawong (Thailand)
Dissertation Topic:
Information Problems and Investor Behavior in the Cryptocurrency Market in Thailand
Thesis Advisor:
Jeremy McClane

Napaskamol Tantanawong is a JSD Candidate at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her dissertation focuses on investor protections in cryptocurrency investment in Thailand. Her academic interests include securities law, digital assets law, and blockchain law.

Prior to joining the JSD program, Ms. Tantanawong worked as a judge in Thailand. She worked at the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court, the Central Bankruptcy Court, Prakanong Provincial Court, Nakorn Si Thammarat Municipal Court, Chiang Mai Provincial Court, Lamphun Provincial Court, and Bangkok North Municipal Court.

Ms. Tantanawong received an LL.B. from Thammasat University, Thailand, LL.M. in International Legal Studies Program from the American University Washington College of Law, and LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida.


Ms. Vanessa Villanueva Collao

Ms. Vanessa Villanueva Collao (Italy)
Curriculum Vitae

Dissertation Topic: Conflicts of Interest in Decentralized Finance: Duties of Cryptointermediaries
Committee: Verity Winship (Chair), Amitai Aviram, Jeremy McClane, Thomas Ulen

Vanessa’s foremost research interests are at the intersection of law and technology, with a particular focus on corporate law. Her secondary interests are comparative law, contracts, and empirical methodologies in law.

Her dissertation analyses the role of (cryptointermediaries) in decentralized finance (DeFi), exploring external corporate governance mechanisms to exert good internal corporate governance, and contributing to the foundational understanding and systematization of DeFi. In her work, Vanessa aims to demystify some assumptions in DeFi and clarify this alternative market as a process of disintermediation, re-intermediation, and the development of new intermediaries.

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Vanessa served as a senior editor for the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal. She has been a teaching assistant in Contracts and Civil Procedure and a research assistant in Securities Regulation. Currently, Vanessa is a research fellow for the ‘South EU Google Data Governance Chair’ project at the Roma Tre University, where she teaches Empirical Methodology to Doctoral Students and Corporate Technologies to JDs.

In her transition from the JSD program to legal academia, Vanessa joined the European University Institute of Fiesole (Italy) as a Max Weber Fellow in Law. Her project during the MW fellowship deals with Models of Governance for Accessible Cryptomarkets (Decentralized Governance), studying the role of wireless investors (cryptoasset holders), and how dividing economic rights from voting rights can incentivize active participation in the organization and further reduce the collective action problem within cryptomarkets. To uncover this, Vanessa plans to run a lab experiment. 

Her scholarship includes peer-reviewed articles in English, Italian, and Spanish law reviews. Moreover, her work has been selected for presentation at the World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research, the Young Comparativists Committee section of the American Association of Comparative Law, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Law and Society Association, and Jean Monnet Chairs events, among other prestigious venues.

Vanessa Villanueva is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley (LLM) and the University of Genova, Department of Law (JD) and Department of Economics (MA).

Ms. Elsa Zawedde

Ms. Elsa Zawedde (Uganda)
Curriculum Vitae
Dissertation Topic:
Piloting Dynamic Health Justice Partnerships in Uganda: Integrating Culturally Safe Legal Care in Rural Health Care Facilities
Thesis Advisor:
Colleen Murphy

Elsa Zawedde is a JSD candidate researching Dynamic Health Justice Partnerships in Uganda. She is also a graduate assistant in the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies Office at the University of Illinois.

Elsa has devoted a significant part of her career to advancing law as a tool to combat disparities and promote health equity. Her research focuses on health justice partnerships, culturally safe legal care, reproductive health, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of health law, social determinants of health, and the use of empirical research and legal design methodology in law. Her research has been featured in the Journal of Law in Society and Deseret News.

At the Center for Health Human Rights and Development, Elsa was able to advance the health rights of vulnerable people in Uganda through groundbreaking activism and litigation in maternal health, access to essential medicine, and tobacco regulation. In 2016, Elsa worked extensively on reforming the tobacco law bill and regulations adopted by the parliament of Uganda and enacted into law. She participated in the Comprehensive Sexuality Education Policy draft and the National Health Insurance scheme bill.

Elsa received her BA in Law from Uganda Christian University, summa cum laude. She received a master’s in law from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.

Ms. Qiaoyuan Melody Zhi

Ms. Qiaoyuan Melody Zhi (China)
Thesis Advisor: Kenworthey Bilz

Qiaoyuan Melody Zhi is an LLM and a Juris Science Doctor candidate at the University of Illinois. Melody focuses on law and psychology, health law, and elder law. Melody’s current projects use psychological experiments to test how medical scarcity and the understanding of altruism impact health inequity. The project aims to provide empirical evidence to help lawmakers think about the fair allocation of scarce medical resources in light of challenges, such as the pandemic.

Melody publishes in Chinese law reviews, psychological journals, and medical journals. She also presents papers about advance directives, gene-edited babies, and informed consent from parents at conferences in the U.S. and Europe. She is co-authoring a book chapter about health law and psychology with Professor Kenworthey Bilz for the Handbook in Law and Psychology. In this chapter, they focus on five issues: informed consent, advance care planning, how law shapes health behaviors and attitudes, the obligation to others based on the understanding of medical privacy, and health justice.

Melody conducted legal research and empirical analysis for Bloomington City Council, Louisiana Capital Assistance Center in the U.S., and Liannan City Council, Jianghai Sub-District Office in China. She earned pro bono notation by providing legal aid with the Chinese American Service League and Immigration Law Clinic.

Melody is a guest speaker, interpreter, translator, and graduate assistant for the University of Illinois Global Education and Training. She also writes and edits educational content about diverse psychological topics for lay audiences.

Ms. Thallyta Pedroza Ferreira Cavoli

Mrs. Thallyta Pedroza Ferreira Cavoli (Brazil)
Curriculum Vitae
Dissertation Topic: “Do Labor and Employment Laws Contribute to Poverty: An interdisciplinary and comparative study of Brazil and the United States”
Thesis Advisor: Robert M. Lawless

Thallyta Laryssa P.F. Cavoli is currently a JSD Candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Law. Her research interests are labor and employment law, poverty law, law and economics, and interdisciplinary studies. 

Before joining the program Thallyta received her BA in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro and her LLM in Justice, Democracy, and Legal Rights from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Law. During her Master’s program, she was the LLM Representative of the Education Law and Policy Society and a member of the Street Law Inc. program.

Thallyta has been involved with social projects that fight poverty around the globe and now is developing a dissertation in connection to these initiatives.

Mr. Oluwakemi Adeyemi

Mr. Oluwakemi Adeyemi (Nigeria)
Curriculum Vitae
Dissertation Topic:Operationalizing Debt Financing on the Security of Intellectual Properties
Thesis Advisor: Robert M. Lawless

Oluwakemi Adeyemi is a Doctor of the Science of Law (JSD) candidate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He acquired his LLM degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in May 2022. His research evaluates how the law can unlock inclusive economic opportunities especially by unlocking financing opportunities to creatives and innovators in developing countries on the security of their intellectual properties. A Nigeria-licensed attorney, Oluwakemi recently passed the New York Bar Examination and is in the process of meeting other bar license requirements of New York. Oluwakemi teaches sixth-grade students Big History in three middle schools in Champaign, Illinois. Through his experience working with non-profits addressing social issues such as poverty, race, Oluwakemi believes that one of the best empowerments for underserved and marginalized communities is to provide them with gainful and meaningful opportunities to work.