UChicago Law School student earns Rhodes Scholarship


University of Chicago Law School student Yali Peng, LLM’17, has won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford next fall. She will pursue a doctorate in either criminology or socio-legal studies and hopes to examine sentencing structures and criminal behavior with a focus on how the system affects people from marginalized communities.“Namely I hope to answer two questions: What kind of sentencing can better match our retribution and deterrence goals? How we eliminate those factors systematically driving people to be criminals in prison system?” said Peng, who is currently part of UChicago’s JSD program, aimed at international lawyers.
A resident of Guangzhou, China, was among four Rhodes Scholars from China this year. She is the 53rd student from the University of Chicago to receive the award, a group that includes Joshua Pickar, JD’17, who was named a Rhodes scholar in 2016.
Before entering the Law School, Peng earned a bachelor of laws degree from Tsinghua University, where she wrote an award-winning dissertation that examined the factors influencing the sentencing of larceny based on linear regression models. She was an editorial board member of Tsinghua China Law Review and clerked at the Supreme People’s Court of China.
Peng is now in the second year of her JSD program, writing a dissertation that will focus on the extralegal factors influencing Chinese sentencing.
“The Rhodes Scholarship is a tremendous honor, and one that underscores the extraordinary intellectual contributions that our LLM and JSD students make to the Law School community,” said Dean Thomas J. Miles, the Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law and Economics. “Yali’s work shows great promise, and we are delighted to see her recognized in this way.”  

Human stories inspire legal career
Peng said her interest in criminal behavior has grown from observing the human stories behind crimes.
“I know a prostitute who sold …

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