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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.

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.

In her dissertation, Vanessa 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. Finally, through the analysis of the conflicts in DeFi and the structure of the cryptoenterprise, she developed a series of best practices for cryptoenterprises and policymakers. Her law and technology interests do not stop at the DeFi ecosystem. Still, they extend to new forms of governance arising from artificial intelligence.

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. During her JSD, Vanessa developed workshops for Law as Science, the first doctoral association in the U.S. devoted to introducing diverse methodological approaches to U.S. doctoral candidates in law. Within this, in collaboration with WINIR YS (World Interdisciplinary Network for Institutional Research – Young Scholars), she structured mentoring and networking connections and academic feedback through the organization of a doctoral roundtable with a pool of participants deserving of scholarship that reflected merit and representation of the global south.

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 Illinois at Urbana Champaign (JSD), the University of California at Berkeley (LLM), and the University of Genova, Department of Law (JD) and Department of Economics (MA).