February 2011

Jeanne Narum

Jeanne L. Narum is the founding principal of PKAL Learning Spaces Collaboratory, the founding director of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL) and director of the Independent Colleges Office (ICO), all located in Washington, D.C. A nationally recognized advocate for undergraduate education, her activities collectively reflect her commitment to ensure today's undergraduates--no matter their background or career aspiration--have access to learning environments that equip them to be tomorrow's leaders. During the past twenty years, PKAL has played a major role in catalyzing discussions about the why and how of transforming undergraduate programs in STEM fields. Narum has facilitated opportunities for informed conversations among early-career STEM faculty, within and between STEM disciplinary societies, engaging leaders and leadership teams from campuses and organizations across the country.

Kibera Working Group's WATSAN Solution profile

Kibera Working Group's WATSAN Solution

University of Denver

The lack of hygienic sanitation facilities in slums is a primary cause of 1.5 million child deaths each year; improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrheal deaths in young children by more than a third. The Kibera Working Group, a collaboration of University of Denver faculty and graduate students, Nairobi-based water and sanitation company Ecotact, and the Rotary Clubs of Denver Southeast and Langata-Nairobi is working toward the goal of improved sanitation facilities in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.

The team believes that the high failure rate among water and sanitation (WATSAN) projects in the developing world has much to do with settling for the construction of facilities as the desired outcome instead of focusing on improving health outcomes and sustaining operations through a framework that integrates hygiene, governance and business planning. The team’s model for Kibera relies on specific innovations in facilities management, governance, and hygiene promotion that should constitute a replicable minimum standard for sustainable activity.

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Rickshaw Bank profile

Rickshaw Bank

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Over eight million cycle rickshaws are used daily in India, but most rickshaw drivers are too poor to own their own vehicles, instead renting them daily at a significant percentage of their income. The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), an Indian nonprofit, is challenging this model, making its own rickshaws that drivers can pay for on an installment plan, gaining ownership of the rickshaw in about one year.

This team is working with TRB to improve the rickshaws being sold. Within the extreme cost constraint of $230 per rickshaw, they have made a number of incremental improvements to the current model’s efficiency and safety, including an emergency rear braking system and a redesigned frame that weighs fifteen pounds less. Ongoing projects include a gearing system (current rickshaws are single-speed), a luggage rack for passengers, and head- and taillights. They are also working on more radical changes, such as the addition of an electric assist with regenerative braking.

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Jatropha Fuel Briquette Design as Value-added Product for Smallholder Farmers in Guatemala profile

Jatropha Fuel Briquette Design as Value-added Product for Smallholder Farmers in Guatemala

University of Colorado at Boulder

Roughly half the population of Guatemala lives on less than two dollars a day, with the majority of rural households making a living through subsistence agriculture. At the same time, the country depends entirely on unsustainable energy sources to power the economy, importing all of its fossil fuel while most rural households use firewood as their primary cooking fuel.

To address the dual issues of poverty and environmental degradation, this team is developing briquettes made from the locally available Jatropha plant to meet rural families’ cooking fuel needs. Fuel briquettes are an environmentally friendly substitute for expensive or unsustainable fuel sources and can be produced at low cost using manual technology and free raw materials—in this case, Jatropha seedstock waste left over from the production of biodiesel. The team is partnering with TechnoServe, a Guatemalan NGO that has been creating biodiesel from Jatropha since 2006.

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infantAIR profile


Rice University

Respiratory failure is a leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Conditions that compromise respiratory function, including prematurity, birth asphyxia, and infection account for a large percentage of the 4.9 million neonatal deaths that occur annually in developing countries. In order to decrease infant mortality, there is a need for appropriate, durable, low-cost, high-functioning equipment to treat infants and small children with respiratory distress.

This team is developing a low-cost ventilation system for use in developing countries. It is a continuous positive airway pressure system (CPAP), which works by maintaining positive airway pressure during spontaneous breathing, increasing lung volume at the end of exhalation, preventing the collapse of the airway structure and improving oxygenation. The device helps to keep a baby’s lungs fully inflated so he or she can breathe naturally.

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Ethan Danahy

Ethan Danahy is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department Computer Science at Tufts University, having received the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Computer Science in 2000 and 2002, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2007, all from Tufts. Additionally, Ethan acts as the Engineering Research Program Director at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO), where he manages educational technology development projects while researching innovative and interactive techniques for assisting teachers with performing engineering education and communicating robotics concepts to students spanning the K-12 through university age range.

Medici Medical Technologies Profile

Medici Medical Technologies

Duke University

Medici develops innovative devices to restore control to women suffering from urinary incontinence (UI). Twenty-eight million Americans suffer from UI, and most see little improvement in their conditions despite $20 billion spent annually on this problem. The Medici solution is a convenient, non-invasive device that is simple to use and effectively prevents embarrassing leakage. Medici’s device in development is a simple means for patients with stress urinary incontinence (SUI) to control leakage arising from episodic stress. Such stress events are short in duration and exert high-pressure on the abdomen, such as from coughing, sneezing or exercising.

The Medici device resembles a self-catheter and comprises a series of physiologically controlled valves that achieve control by opening under low pressure from the bladder and by closing in response to the short, high-pressure bursts associated with SUI. Convenience is another key benefit, since the Medici device will be replaced weekly by the patient at home, greatly improving upon current treatments that require multiple replacements daily, often in public restrooms.

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Joseph Steig

Joseph Steig leads the Venture Well program for the NCIIA. He has twenty years' experience as an advisor and CFO to entrepreneurial companies and non-profits. He also advises Long River Ventures, a regional venture capital firm, in the role of consulting CFO. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada and graduated with a BA from Hampshire College.

Jennifer Keller Jackson

Jennifer Keller Jackson oversees the NCIIA’s grants programs (Course and Program, E-Team, Sustainable Vision, Sponsorship and Resource grants, totaling about $2m annually), the Olympus Innovation Awards program and other competitions. Jennifer’s background is in nonprofit management in the areas of education and technology. Her experience includes program development, customer service, fund-raising, technical proposal writing, communications, and PR. She wrote a concept paper to start a nonprofit and worked to transform another organization into a for-profit company. Jennifer and her family moved to Amherst, MA from the Washington, D.C. area in 2004. Jennifer grew up overseas in Asia, Africa, and South America and is deeply interested in alternatives to the traditional aid model of development. She has a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and studied at the Univerisite de Montpellier, France.

Malo Traders LLC profile

Malo Traders LLC

Temple University and Purdue University

Malnutrition is a widespread problem in Mali, with 38% of the population suffering from chronic malnutrition and 15% suffering from acute malnutrition. Eighty-one percent of children under age five and at least 67% of women are anemic and in one form or another. This tragedy is compounded by the fact that, each year, the country wastes enough rice to meet the annual needs of at least 580,000 people and only 19% of land suitable for irrigation is currently cultivated. With continued population growth, demand for rice will continue to rise and render the current model of rice production and distribution increasingly untenable.

To combat these problems, Malo Traders LLC is developing a cross-cultural solution in which rice grown by small-scale farmers is purchased, stored, and fortified in a socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable manner. The team is currently partnering with GrainPro, the inventor of an innovative hermitic storage system that does not require the use of chemicals to maintain quality and safety. To fortify rice in a culturally appropriate way, they are utilizing PATH's Ultra Rice® technology, in which fortified rice is mixed with regular white rice to make it nearly identical in smell, taste and texture. The ultimate idea is to sell fortified rice at a cheaper price than imported and locally grown non-fortified rice, boosting output, improving quality, and helping Mali maintain political stability by meeting the basic nutritional needs of its citizens, creating jobs, and turning it into the rice-exporting country that it should be.

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