Alumna's UHLC experience sparks pursuit of Ph.D. in her native Estonia 

University of Houston Law Center alumna Kärt Pormeister, a 2015 LL.M. graduate

Feb. 9, 2018 — After obtaining a Health Law LL.M. from the University of Houston Law Center in 2015, Kärt Pormeister continues to enhance her legal education in her homeland of Estonia.

Pormeister is currently working on a compilation thesis to complete a Ph.D. program in information technology Law at the University of Tartu. The topic of her thesis concerns data protection aspects of genetic research and how genetic research is legally regulated through personal data protection rules in the European Union.

Her thesis requirements include having at least three papers printed in internationally renowned peer-reviewed publications. Pormeister's research has been published in the Journal of European Consumer and Market Law, the Journal of International Data Privacy Law (Oxford Press) and in the Privacy Technologies and Policy post-conference proceedings. She will have three more papers published later this year.

Pormeister credits Professor Jessica Roberts' Genetics and the Law course and Professor Barbara Evans' Biotechnology and the Law course for inspiring her Ph.D. thesis.
Evans is also part of Pormeister's thesis committee.

"Her being on the committee is really amazing to me considering her credentials and experience," Pormeister said. "She sat down with me before I left Houston, and the conversation we had truly inspired me to enroll in the Ph.D. program at home and to start researching genetic research regulations in the Estonian and European Union context."

Pormeister said her LL.M. from the Law Center changed the trajectory of her career.

"Of course I was interested in health law before I came to the Law Center, however, I had never had the opportunity to take any courses related to health law," she said. "The courses I took there were amazing and changed my life.

"Because of the experience at the Law Center, I went to work for the Estonian State Agency of Medicines, the Estonian equivalent of the FDA, right after getting back from Houston. Half a year later, I decided to apply for the Ph.D. studies in order to continue research in health law."

"It was an adventure," she said of her time at the Law Center. "It was completely different from anything I had experienced back home. What is most memorable to me is the personal instruction with the professors. My professors took time out of their days to sit down with a random, foreign student from a pretty unknown far-away country. The discussions we had were extremely encouraging and inspiring, and I will be forever thankful for them. 

"The professor-student relationships were just amazingly organic in the sense that all professors, regardless of rank, were very approachable and engaged in the classroom."