Fellows, Spring 2009
- Sibren Isaacman, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, is studying network connectivity in disconnected regions. With the help of his adviser, professor Margaret Martonosi, he is hoping to leverage a collaborative caching strategy to bring an educational, web-based application to developing regions. By bringing a usable form of the internet to regions that have thus far been unconnected, the vast "technology divide" that exists can be narrowed and even remote villages will have access to the educational and health benefits provided by increased interaction both within their own country and with the world as a whole. Sibren is looking forward to deploying the system in Latin America in March 2009.
- Ekua Bentil is a PhD student in the Electrical Engineering department and works on designing and developing robust mid-infrared technologies for trace gas sensing. These sensing systems, using quantum cascade lasers as the main light source, have some distinctive features. Among many other highly desirable sensing qualities, they are portable, highly sensitive (parts-per-billion), fast, non-invasive and allow real time data analysis. This spring, Ekua and her research adviser, Professor Claire Gmachl will be collaborating with researchers from the Laser and Fiber Optics Center, a center at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. They will be deploying a mid-infrared gas sensor in Cape Coast and its neighboring communities to determine and monitor the concentration of gases such as COx , ozone and eventually other harmful gases that may be present in local wood smoke. Wood burning is a common activity in these coastal communities as most fishmongers use it as a source of fuel in smoking fish.
Fellows, Fall 2008
- Trenton Franz, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, studies ecohydrology in central Kenya. His research focuses on developing observational and modeling studies on the interactions between hydrology and ecology in dryland ecosystems. The potential impacts of climate and landuse change have severe impacts on the pastoralist and wildlife communities. With his adviser, Michael Celia, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Franz is collaborating with scientists at the Mpala Research Center to study the consequences of climate and landuse change on the water balance.
- Anirudh Badam, a Ph.D. student in Computer Science, works on developing Internet technology for improving network access in developing regions. His research aims to develop fundamentally different storage architectures that allow connectivity-poor regions to exploit the massive cost differences between local storage and wide-area network access. Anirudh along with his adviser, Vivek S. Pai, is currently developing and deploying terabyte-scale caches that can be shared across low-power and low-resource machines, such as low-cost laptops. These caches can reduce network congestion, improve latency, and even provide offline access to frequently-accessed Web sites. Anirudh's caches have already attracted the attention of groups such as the One Laptop Per Child project, as well as commercial interests.
- Baley Fong is a Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering who is developing novel, economical methods to purify proteins. Current conventional protein purification techniques are cost-prohibitive in third world markets, necessitating the use of alternate means to isolate proteins for medicinal purposes. Her advisor, Dr. David Wood, and she are collaborating with Biofactura, a small startup biotechnology company, to develop a diagnostic assay for the early detection of lassa fever in West African nations. Lassa virus affects 300,000-500,000 patients annually and is most effectively treated in its early stages. Thus, assays that can diagose the disease early on will be crucial for the survival rate of patients.
- Tiffany Tong is a PhD student in Electrical Engineering and is helping to improve organic electronic devices and solar cells - technologies that may prove to be particularly useful in tackling problems specific to developing regions: Solar energy can provide rural communities that have unreliable electricity or are completely disconnected from the power grid with energy to meet their basic needs. Organic light emitting displays will meanwhile drive down the costs of consumer electronics to help close the digital divide. Through the US-Africa Materials Institute that is headed by her thesis advisor, MAE professor Wole Soboyejo, Tiffany collaborates with universities and research institutes across Africa. She is also working on a solar-powered vaccine delivery system for desert regions with the Global Development Network and is participating in the PEI-STEP fellowship program with the Woodrow Wilson School, where she will study the diffusion of solar-powered lanterns in a rural Kenyan community.
Fellows, Spring 2007
Ying Liu, a Ph.D. student in mechanical and aerospace engineering, who is developing drug delivery techniques based on nanoparticles. The technology could become a cost-effective way to deliver tuberculosis medicines that do not require refrigeration and are easier to use than conventional medicines. With her thesis advisor Professor of Chemical Engineering Robert Prud'homme, Liu is collaborating with researchers of Harvard University and the University of Rochester. Tuberculosis is a major health issue in developing regions. It is the leading cause of death in South Africa with nearly 70,000 deaths per year.
Yan Zhang, a Ph.D. student in civil and environmental engineering, who studies atmospheric aerosols and air pollution. Her research seeks to apply new light sensing technologies to studying air pollution in China, which has some of the highest air pollution levels in the world. With her adviser Jim Smith, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Zhang intends to collaborate with research scientists in Anhui and Beijing in China to investigate the optical properties of the lower atmosphere and the physical properties of urban aerosols and their impact on local weather.