New Faculty Focus: Nina Varsava

November 26, 2019

Nina Varsava, Assistant Professor of Law

Hometown: St. Johns, Newfoundland

Photo: Nina Versava

Nina Varsava

Educational/professional background: JD, Yale Law School; PhD, Stanford; Judicial Law Clerk, Colorado Supreme Court.

How did you get into your field of research? Quite circuitously.

What attracted you to UW–Madison? Down-to-earth scholars, interdisciplinarity, lakes.

What was your first visit to campus like? It was cold, wet, and dark when I visited for my interview, but the people I interacted with were warm and engaging.

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with? I hope that by the end of the class students will be more fascinated by, but not necessarily more enamored with, the law than they were when they started.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? I work largely at the intersection of law and applied ethics. I’m interested, for example, in revealing and remedying injustices in human subjects research, and in the delivery of health care and legal services.

Also, I think it’s important to make research findings accessible to a broad audience beyond academia and to keep open lines of communication between the university and broader society. To that end, I look for opportunities to discuss my work outside of academia and to write about research for general audiences. For example, this.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties? So-called “de-identified” data and biological materials aren’t protected by privacy and informed consent rules. Data is considered de-identified so long as 18 particular attributes aren’t associated with the data. These attributes include social security number and finger print. If you’re over 89, age is also included! Once data is de-identified though, researchers are legally permitted to use and share it freely.

Hobbies/other interests: I spend most of my spare time rock climbing, training for rock climbing, and planning my next climbing trip!