S.J.D. Candidates at UVA Law

S.J.D. Candidates at UVA Law

The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is a research doctorate in law and is the highest degree conferred by the University of Virginia School of Law. It is designed for highly qualified, independent students who wish to pursue an extended program of research under the supervision of a faculty member, leading to the submission of a dissertation that makes an original and substantial contribution to legal scholarship.

Apinop AtipiboonsinApinop Atipiboonsin


Faculty Supervisor: Mila Versteeg

Apinop Atipiboonsin started his doctoral studies at UVA Law in 2018. He specializes in comparative constitutional law, administrative law and family law. He currently focuses his research on constitutional law as well as theories of public law in Southeast Asia. His research and dissertation focus on the military and its institutional role in the constitution with emphasis on both the theoretical and comparative perspectives.

Prior to his candidacy at the University of Virginia, he received his LL.B., with honors, from the Faculty of Law, Thammasat University in 2012. He started his academic career at his alma mater as a lecturer, where he was appointed at the time as an editorial committee of the prestigious Thammasat Law Journal. He later finished his LL.M. program at Columbia Law School in New York City as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar in 2016.


  • “The History of Thai Family Laws: Strong Women and Weak Gender Equality under the Law,” in Thai Legal History: From Traditional to Modern Law 170-184 (Andrew Harding & Munin Pongsapan, eds., 2021).
  • “Volcanic Constitution: How is Plurality Turning Against Constitutionalism in Thailand?” in Pluralist Constitutions in Southeast Asia 225-250 (Jaclyn L. Neo & Bui Ngoc Son, eds., 2019).


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2018-Present
  • LL.M., Columbia Law School, (Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar), 2016     
  • LL.B., Thammasat University (Second Class Honors), 2012

Marilyn HajjMarilyn Hajj


Faculty Supervisor: Michael Doran

Marilyn Hajj specializes in U.S. tax law. Her current research focuses on taxation and poverty relief. She has also written about topics such as the complexity of taxation law. Hajj uses a multidisciplinary approach in her work, combining tax law with philosophy, sociology and economics. She also utilizes comparative law in her analysis.

Aside from her doctoral work, Hajj currently serves as a Civil Law instructor for first-year students at Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth (Lebanon), her alma mater. She teaches alongside Lebanon’s former minister of justice and is currently the youngest law instructor at the university and one of the youngest in the country.

Prior to joining the S.J.D. program, Hajj obtained her bachelor’s in French and Lebanese law and her master’s in corporate law at Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth. She was among 13 Lebanese citizens to be awarded the Fulbright scholarship, which allowed her to obtain her LL.M. degree from UVA Law, where she focused on tax law. She has worked as a research assistant for UVA Law professors Ruth Mason, Andrew Hayashi and Ashley Deeks. In addition, Hajj has served as the project manager of a Paris-based legal startup named Lexminster.

Hajj was also a founding member and co-director of a Lebanese nongovernmental organization called Foodblessed, which has a double purpose of fighting hunger and food waste in the country. Today, the organization feeds thousands of families in crisis-ridden Lebanon. Hajj still serves as one of their spokespersons. She has also represented her country in a number of international programs taking place in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Hungary, France, Austria and the Netherlands. She is fluent in Arabic, English and French, and has worked in legal translation for many years.


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2020-Present
  • LL.M., University of Virginia School of Law, 2020
  • Masters 1 in Corporate Law, Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth, 2018
  • Bachelors in French and Lebanese Law, Université Saint Joseph de Beyrouth, 2017

Jeronimo Lau Alberdi


Faculty Supervisor: David Law

Jeronimo Lau Alberdi is an associate professor at Universidad Austral (Buenos Aires, Argentina.) His teaching is informed by research interests in constitutional law in Argentina and the United States, comparative constitutionalism, judicialization of politics and judicial behavior. He is particularly interested in how, when and why courts and judges encroach upon the domain of politics and to what extent judicial power expands into a territory formerly occupied by other institutions. Ultimately, he focuses on the issues of case selection and legitimacy in Supreme Courts. 

He earned his master’s degree from Georgetown University and practiced law in Buenos Aires before coming to the U.S. He worked with Gregorio Badeni, Juan Carlos Cassagne and Alfonso Santiago, three of the most senior and well-known scholars in the field of public law in Argentina. He has filed certiorari petitions and argued and intervened in significant cases before the Supreme Court of Argentina. Most of these cases are being studied at law schools.

Lau Alberdi received multiple honors, awards and scholarships for his academic achievements and publications in law journals.


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2022-Present
  • LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center, 2022
  • J.D., Universidad Austral, 2015

Charlotte Montory MuñozCharlotte Montory Muñoz


Faculty Supervisor: Anne M. Coughlin

Prior to joining the S.J.D. program, Charlotte Montory Muñoz earned her LL.M. degree at UVA Law in 2020 while she was a Fulbright Scholar. Before starting her studies at UVA, Montory Muñoz earned her LL.B. in legal and social sciences at Universidad Austral de Chile, where she worked as a teaching assistant in criminal law courses and graduated first in her class, obtaining the award for best GPA in 2012. After graduating, she balanced her work in litigation and academia by serving as a practicing attorney in a law firm while conducting academic research on the intersection of gender violence and criminal law.

Montory Muñoz’s interests include criminal law, feminist jurisprudence, criminal procedure and litigation. Her doctoral dissertation centers on the analysis of affirmative defenses for battered women focused on cases where defendants killed their intimate partners. Through her thesis, she aims to identify the standards compatible with a gender perspective to provide adequate defenses that consider these women’s roles as victims and rational agents.


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2020-Present
  • LL.M., University of Virginia School of Law, 2020
  • LL.B., Universidad Austral de Chile, 2013

Alexis RamirezAlexis Ramirez


Faculty Supervisor: Mila Versteeg

Before becoming an S.J.D. candidate, Alexis Ramirez completed his LL.M. degree at UVA Law in 2020. He also holds an LL.B. degree from Universidad de Chile. Prior to his doctoral studies at UVA, Ramirez was a researcher at the Constitutional and Administrative Studies Center of the Universidad Mayor, where he also taught an introductory course on law.

Ramirez’s academic interests include the fields of constitutional law and theory, comparative law, legal and political history, and legal and political theory. He is writing his dissertation on the relationship between informal constitutional norms and the institutional design established by the written constitution, through a comparative analysis of constitutional systems of civil law countries, under the supervision of Professor Mila Versteeg.


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2020-Present
  • LL.M., University of Virginia School of Law, 2020
  • LL.B. (Licenciado en Derecho y Ciencias Sociales), Universidad de Chile, 2016

Liang-How (Peter) Sie


Dissertation Topic: Social and Legal Implications of Epigenetics Research on Parental Liability

Faculty Supervisor: Gregg Strauss

Peter Sie’s dissertation explores the arguments for and against tort and criminal liability arising from epigenetic effects of voluntary choices made by previous generations, the concept of epigenetic exceptionalism, the use of science in public health, and the need to rethink maternal blame in light of epigenetics research and reproductive justice.

Prior to his doctoral studies at UVA, Sie worked in the COVID-19 Law Lab at Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, and served as an executive editor on the Food and Drug Law Journal.

Sie obtained his LL.M. degrees from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was selected as a Global Health Law Scholar, and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Law, Newcastle University. Before his legal studies, Sie received his B.S. degree in economics and human biology from University of Toronto.


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2021-Present
  • LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center, 2021
  • LL.M., University of California at Berkeley School of Law, 2020
  • LL.B., Newcastle University Law School, 2019
  • B.S., University of Toronto, 2016

Yumio WangYumiao Wang


Dissertation Topic: Rationale and Efficiency of Nonprofit Organizations

Faculty SupervisorPaul G. Mahoney

Yumiao Wang is a second-year S.J.D. candidate at UVA Law. Wang’s research areas are legal person theory, nonprofit organizations and tort liability. He is also a Ph.D. candidate at Renmin University of China, where his research is on legal attributes of religious venue. He has published several articles, with Xinbao Zhang, in Chinese leading legal journals on liability for pollution, unincorporated organizations and nonprofit organizations.

Prior to being an S.J.D. candidate, Wang earned his LL.M. from UVA Law, where he received the prestigious Dean’s Scholarship Award. Before coming to the U.S., Wang served as secretary general of the Civil Code Codification Program on Tort Liability (2016-18), which was launched and led by China Law Society. The report achieved by the program became the founding draft of Civil Code of the PRC, which passed in 2020. Wang also attended and spoke at several Chinese national academic conferences.

Wang earned his LL.B. from China University of Political Science and Law, where he graduated as an Excellent Graduate of Beijing City. He obtained his LL.M. in civil and commercial law from RUC Law School.     


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2020-Present
  • LL.M., University of Virginia School of Law, 2020
  • LL.M., Renmin University of China Law School, 2016
  • LL.B., China University of Political Science and Law School of International Law, 2014

Amin YacoubAmin R. Yacoub


Dissertation Topic: Resolving Horizontal and Vertical Fragmentation of International Law in the Application of Full Protection and Security Standard. 

Faculty Supervisor: Paul Stephan

Amin R. Yacoub specializes in public international law, international investment arbitration, human rights law, and criminal law. His research interests also include constitutional law, AI and law, legal theory, environmental law, and globalization theory. Yacoub’s doctoral dissertation examines the application of the Full Protection and Security (FPS) Due Diligence Standard in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances to develop unified working methodologies that measure the interplay between investment obligations and human rights law obligations on one hand and police powers and public policy of host states on the other. 

Yacoub’s research has been published at top U.S. Law reviews and international peer-reviewed journals including the University of San Francisco Law Review, New York University Journal of International Law and Politics, Michigan Journal of International Law, UC Davis Journal of International Law & Policy, Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal, Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Journal, William & Mary Environmental Law Journal, Young Arbitration Review, and the Women’s Studies International Forum-a peer-reviewed journal published by Elsevier. Yacoub also has forthcoming publications at Upenn Journal of Constitutional Law and Boston University's Science and Technology Law. He presented his research at multiple academic conferences held by McGill University, the University of Glasgow, the University of Leeds, and Akron Law School. Yacoub's work has been cited by legal and non-legal scholars worldwide. 

Yacoub maintains an active litigation practice in New York. Yacoub's fields of practice include business law, torts, contractual disputes, landlord-tenant disputes, and family law. 

Prior to joining the S.J.D. program at UVA Law, Yacoub worked as a prosecutor at the Egyptian Public Prosecution Office, a junior research scholar at New York University School of Law, a legal expert at Physicians for Human Rights (NY), and an associate at the international arbitration department at Matouk Bassiouny law firm (formerly affiliated with DLA Piper). 

Yacoub pursued his LLM at NYU Law in 2017/2018 as a MAHS Scholar — a merit-based scholarship granted to only two Egyptians from all governorates each year. During his time at NYU Law, he worked with the Open Society Foundation, volunteered at the New York Immigration Court, was a graduate editor at the NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, and a research assistant to Professor Robert Howse. 

Yacoub is a member of the bars of New York and Egypt.

Publications on SSRN


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2021-present
  • LL.M. in international law, New York University School of Law, 2018
  • LL.M. in public and administrative law, Cairo University, 2017
  • LL.B. (with high distinction and honors) in law, economics and Islamic law, Cairo University Faculty of Law English Section, 2015

Isabelle ZhangIsabelle (Xu) Zhang


Faculty Supervisor: Paul G. Mahoney

Isabelle (Xu) Zhang’s research interests focus on capital markets, including comparative securities regulation (particularly in the U.S. and China), venture capital and private equity, and law and economic development.

After graduating from Peking University Law School with the China national scholarship, Zhang worked in Beijing with a major U.S. law firm and also gained experience in a judicial clerkship. Prior to her study at UVA Law School, she graduated from the Stanford Program in International Legal Studies with her thesis on venture capital and private equity exit in stock markets. 


  • S.J.D. Candidate, University of Virginia School of Law, 2021-Present
  • J.S.M., Stanford University School of Law, 2021
  • Juris Master, Peking University, 2017
  • B.A., Sun-Yat-sen University, 2014