Alumni News Brief

Computer science alum Cohler named Rockefeller Fellow

Image of Yuga Cohler, A.B. '11

Yuga Cohler, A.B. '11

Yuga Cohler, A.B. ‘11, will spend the next three years sharing his knowledge of cryptocurrency and Web3 development with global leaders in economics, business, politics and technology. Cohler was recently named a David Rockefeller Fellow by the Trilateral Commission, an international non-profit organization that brings together leaders from numerous industries and academic areas.

“It’s primarily a forum for the exchange of ideas amongst people in various spheres, and a way to advance ideas and converge on wiser decision-making,” he said. “You meet people, you exchange ideas, and hopefully you help lead the world in a better direction.”

Cohler studied computer science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), working with advisor David Parkes, George F. Colony Professor of Computer Science and incoming SEAS Dean. He worked for Google for seven years, and in 2021 joined Coinbase, the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange. Cohler is now a senior staff engineer at Coinbase, as well as an advisor for Hash3, a crypto-native investment fund. He’s the first Rockefeller Fellow selected from the cryptocurrency industry.

“Dialogue between policymakers, business leaders and subject-area experts will become crucial as rule-making around this advances over the next couple years,”  said Cohler. “As the pace of technological change accelerates, it’ll be ever more important that the people actually building the technology are part of the conversation.”

The Trilateral Commission was co-founded in 1973 by Harvard professor and diplomat Edwin Reischauer, who also founded the Japan Institute at Harvard, now named in his honor.  The North American Chairman is Meghan L. O'Sullivan, Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government (HKS), and multiple other HKS faculty are on the North American executive committee.

The Rockefeller Fellowship was established in 2013 to engage the next generation of leaders.  Cohler will moderate a panel on cybersecurity for attendees at the North American conference in Mexico City in November, which will feature Chris Krebs, the former Director of Cybersecurity for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“It’s really important that us younger Rockefeller Fellows represent the views of our generation,” Cohler said. “Obviously we live in a country where power and wealth skews towards older people. As illustrious as these people we’ll meet are, it’s equally important that us Fellows play a role in bridging that gap and representing the views of our generation, which may not be in line with what an older CEO of a big company might be.”

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