PKG Summer Fellows: Summer 2022
We are pleased to announce and congratulate our Summer 2022 PKG Fellows! Read about their work below and keep an eye out on the PKG blog for updates about their projects.
Anisha Gade (Urban Studies & Planning, G ‘25)
Anisha will be working with the community partner on creating an asset map cataloging and geo-coding community members’ shops/restaurants and places of business as well as member organizations/institutions’ addresses. The asset map will constitute a major part of the work of the Latino Cultural District, which Anisha’s community partner, Calle 24, anchors. The asset mapping work will involve collecting and organizing/formalizing the institutional memory of Calle 24 staff, board members, and volunteers. This work is intended to form the background for Calle 24 to help obtain “legacy business” status for those entities that have been in place for at least 25 years. The legacy status allows community members to be eligible for city-sponsored financial benefits and technical assistance for small businesses and local nonprofits that are serving the community to be able to alleviate displacement pressures caused by the gentrification of the Mission District.
Ade Oyewole (Sloan School of Management, G’22)
Ade is working on the installation and testing of the UltraViolet water filtration prototype in households in Nigeria. He is working on this to verify that the prototype can effectively disinfect poor-quality household water not typically seen in homes in developed nations. The mission of this project is to address the problem of widespread microbial water contamination seen in many homes in Nigeria.
Aditya Mehrotra (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, UG ‘22)
Aditya is working with Moving Health in developing health infrastructure in Ghana, which involves the creation of motorcycle ambulances that allow for quicker and safer transportation to the hospital. The project is specifically directed at pregnant women who reported immense difficulty getting to a hospital, thus aiming to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates with this project. In addition to the mechanical and user-centered design of the ambulance, Aditya and colleagues are looking to add real-time tracking to the ambulances for servicing and telemetry for doctors to know when patients are arriving at the hospital. Much of the project this summer will focus on the field testing of the sensor system, robustness testing of the sensor system, and the manufacturing of the ambulances at scale.
Ambar Reyes (Comparative Media Studies, G’22)
Ambar’s project for the summer builds up on takeaways from previous experience and my long-standing relationship with NYC Food Delivery Movement. As the next step, the organization is seeking to develop a framework to quantify their endeavors and produce a fact report to use when attending a meeting with government officials or other non-profit/grassroots organizations.
Gabriela Degetau (Architecture and Planning, G’22)
Gabriela’s proposal is grounded in the hypothesis that the best way to achieve procedural justice is through deep listening, which implies both giving Indigenous and frontline communities opportunities and resources to effectively gather and translate stories into institutional languages that impact practice and policy decisions.
Madison Reddie (Mechanical Engineering, G’23)
Maddie is developing a novel medical device intended to increase healthcare resource allocation efficiency and reduce diabetic amputations in low- and middle-income countries. This summer, she is utilizing a PKG travel grant to travel to Kenya and Tanzania to validate critical assumptions underlying the project that will determine its potential impact, as well as to collect feedback that will improve the design. Maddie will visit medical centers in Kenya and Tanzania and interview healthcare workers as well as diabetic patients with questions and probes designed to elicit this information. Maddie will also have patients test a prototype of the device and provide feedback on the form factor and experience. This field study will be a critical step in moving the project forward and ensuring that it will have the hypothesized impact.
Seamus Lombardo (Aeronautics and Astronautics, G’23)
Seamus’ project focuses on supplementing the decision-making of the Yurok Tribe in California and the community of Pekalongan, Indonesia. They are both facing difficult decisions when confronting environmental challenges and their related socioeconomic impacts. Seamus is collaboratively developing decision support systems (DSS) with these communities – software that will incorporate their local data alongside analyses performed at MIT to supplement their ongoing work and aid in decision making. These DSS utilize satellite remote sensing data and integrated models to explore environmental and socioeconomic factors to aid in evaluating policies or investments.
Ana Velarde (Humanities and Biology, UG’24)
Ana will be conducting a series of workshops about sexuality, identity, and power at Universidad del Valle in Nicaragua. The workshops will aim to introduce students to new frameworks of thinking about their bodies and how they relate to other people, with the ultimate goal of reducing sexual violence in university communities. The project will begin with a survey to assess community health and education needs, followed by the careful organization of community-appropriate content and discussion questions. Ana will be facilitating approximately five workshops at Universidad del Valle, which Ana hopes to bring to other Nicaraguan universities as well. Using a feedback-based approach, Ana will make changes to the workshops as necessary so that the content is relevant and digestible to the university students. Finally, through the means of archiving and recording, I hope to leave the workshops in a format that can be picked up by students or other peer educators interested in continuing the project after I have completed my part.
Eunah Kim (Integrated Design and Management, G’23)
Eunah is helping redesign at-home medical tests with a focus on accessibility for people with visual impairments. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the at-home test market has doubled in just one year (2020 to 21) and is expected to be worth $2 billion by 2025. However, many of the kits are difficult or impossible for people with visual impairment to use because the tests either rely on colors to convey information, lack online audio or video supplements to their written instructions, or require physical precision and dexterity to administer. This means that to complete tests, people with visual impairments often have to compromise their privacy and autonomy. To take on this problem, Eunah and colleagues are first focusing on piloting a prototype for accessible at-home over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
Robyn Richmond (Mechanical Engineering, G’23)
Robyn is working with Ram Chandra Thapa at Matribhumi Cookstove to further the D-Lab Himalayan Home Energy Project by improving cooking and heating solutions in Nepal and India this summer. Along with D-Lab research associate Dan Sweeney and two UROP students, Robyn will develop stove solutions to add space-heating capacity to existing cookstoves, reduce indoor air pollution, and reduce firewood fuel consumption to improve the quality of life in Himalayan communities. Robyn’s team will engage local manufacturers and strengthen connections with Kathmandu University in Nepal and UPES in Dehradun, India, along with other partners. During our trip, Robyn and colleagues will have the opportunity to test solution prototypes in-context and make improvements in real-time based on user feedback from community members. The qualitative and quantitative data collected will provide the foundation for the development of Robyn’s master’s thesis and future prototype iterations and projects in the Himalayan Home Energy Project.
Gabriela Alvarez (Mechanical Engineering, UG’ 22)
This summer, Gabriela will be traveling to Kenya to see the ongoing construction of a full-scale version of a forced air evaporative cooler. For the first 2 weeks, Gabriela and colleagues will be located in Turkana and getting to see firsthand how the set-up is going and helping out where their team can from the test chamber design and construction. They will also be continuing market interviews to get a good sense of potential for the technology, all of which will help inform future iterations. After these 2 weeks, they will travel to northern Kenya to explore the potential for mobile versions of the forced air evaporative cooling. From there, they will also be starting some summer testing on the evaporative cooling in this region through work with TBI.
Katie Chen (Integrated Design and Management, G’23)
APT is an accessible pregnancy test for people with visual impairment. Currently, there aren’t any pregnancy tests that do not require vision to find out about test results. However, revealing something as private as pregnancy test results to someone is an infringement on both the user’s autonomy and privacy. Katie and colleagues propose a solution that provides test results using tactile and haptic feedback.
Gina Lee (Urban Studies and Planning, G’22)
Gina is working on workshop series that is an opportunity for young people in the Rockaways to assess their community’s relationships with the environment, past and present. As a part of these workshops, Gina and colleagues will look at tools that are used to understand the environment and make decisions, like mapping, writing, and science. Students will use these tools and others, including art, poetry, and storytelling, to cultivate a nourishing relationship with the environment. They will use the Rockaways as an entry point for exploring these themes by studying the history of the landscape and analyzing existing conditions.
Katie Rotman (Architecture, G’24)
Kite’s Nest is a center for liberatory education in Hudson, NY, that provides the community’s children and teens with after-school programs, school-break camps, and leadership academies. Katie’s project will transform an industrial site into a community campus for liberatory education, youth leadership, and environmental justice. As a PKG fellow, Katie will work directly with Caleb Linville Architects (CLA) and the community this summer to push the architectural project forward from conceptual and initial designs into the design development phase. Katie is eager to support this effort by such an active and imaginative community and to learn how it engages the funding agency in the design process.
Jamal Grant (Sloan School of Management, G’22)
This summer, Jamal’s main project will be a documentary film project titled Ubuntu Rising: 25 Years Since Apartheid. The film serves both as an exploratory study of wealth inequality, race relations, and progress in South Africa since apartheid’s end as well as a comparative study between the United States and South Africa years after the end of legislated oppression. Jamal will be based mostly in Johannesburg but will spend some time traveling across the country throughout the summer. Jamal will be working with a local equity-focused non-profit organization, Reimagine South Africa, on this project, as well as supporting their day-to-day efforts in the community.
Ava Dijstelbloem (Mechanical Engineering, UG’25)
This summer, Ava will be researching evaporative cooling technologies for fruit and vegetable preservation in Turkana County, Kenya. MIT D-Lab currently has a team working on evaporative cooling technologies, and a few of them are going to Kenya to research technologies specific to that region of Kenya. In collaboration with the Turkana Basin Institute, Ava will be working with local communities to source available materials to design and test the efficiency of various evaporative cooling devices. In addition, Ava will be conducting user interviews with community members, farmers, and suppliers to get user feedback and further help design and research technologies that meet the needs of the local communities with whom they are working.
Kwan Queenie Li (Architecture, G’22)
Kwan’s project is to assist the MIT Hong Kong Innovation Node and a local experimental theatre, Zuni, in planning an upcoming one-day public Art-Tech symposium to be held in September 2022 and to organize community-oriented workshops. The goal is to ensure the event does not only propel the cultural growth of the city through new media and technologies but also reorients the application of Art Tech towards the city’s social issues. In the past edition of this public event, featured performances and talks revolved around the latest technological trends and creative industry developments. The organizers and Kwan feel that there is ample room to address better how Art-Tech has propelled social inclusion, climate change, social participation, and self-empowerment through creative means.
Sarah Simon (Urban Studies and Planning, G’23)
Sarah will be working with the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service to assist rural communities in Northern New England with environmental planning. The types of projects RTCA assists with include trail systems, parks, conservation plans, and ecological restoration projects. An important component of Sarah’s work will be community engagement in the design process and finding ways for these projects to meet the larger goals of the rural communities, including economic development.
Lauren Gideonse (Architecture, G’24)
Lauren Gideonse, with research partner Adriana Giorgis, will be working alongside the community organization Boston Building Resources to develop a metric for understanding the longevity and carbon benefits of utilizing recycled building materials in new construction and maintenance projects. They will be producing accessible guides to accompany BBR’s products on the shelf to assist community members with making informed decisions around cost-carbon-lifespan calculations when selecting recycled building components.
John Devine (Urban Studies and Planning, G’23)
In Dallas, many low-income communities of color are struggling with the effects of gentrification. One of the biggest challenges facing these communities is keeping track of proposed developments in their neighborhood since the City of Dallas doesn’t maintain an accessible public database with this information. This summer, John will be working with Dallas Free Press, a nonprofit newsroom, to create development trackers for two of these neighborhoods. This will be the first public-facing pilot for his start-up Civic Atlas, which is developing software platforms that make information about planning and development more accessible to the public.
Adriana Giorgis (Architecture, G’24)
Adriana Giorgis, with research partner Lauren Gideonse, will be working alongside the community organization Boston Building Resources to develop a metric for understanding the longevity and carbon benefits of utilizing recycled building materials in new construction and maintenance projects. They will be producing accessible guides to accompany BBR’s products on the shelf to assist community members with making informed decisions around cost-carbon-lifespan calculations when selecting recycled building components.
Rose Winer (Urban Studies and Planning, G’23)
This summer, Rose will work for Rebuild by Design (“Rebuild”), an NYC-based nonprofit that facilitates partnerships between local governments, experts, and community members and oversees collaborative design processes enabling those partners to build strategies that strengthen local physical, socioeconomic, and environmental resilience. Rose will support Rebuild on two climate adaptation projects. The first involves managing advocacy and communications with city agencies and policymakers. The second will be working with agencies and design teams to evaluate whether the resilience planning projects launched through Rebuild after Hurricane Sandy have effectively addressed adaptation, equity, and sustainability goals 10 years later. Collectively, Rose will contribute to meaningful partnerships, policy development, and nature-based solutions that protect and enhance the resilience and long-term well-being of NYC residents.
Alicia Delgado-Alcaraz (Architecture, G’25)
The situation of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico is one of a “both-ness”; it is within and on borders. However, the inequities specific to students in these geographies necessitate responses from within practice and the academy. Rooted in aspirations of giving back to a community rich in its cultural heritages, in//border is a student-founded initiative committed to providing a mentorship platform for architecture students in El Paso. Participating students will advance in their educational and professional design careers through support from Texas Tech College of Architecture (TTU CoA) El Paso and El Paso Community College (EPCC) alumni.
Srushti Kamat (Comparative Media Studies, G’22)
Srushti’s project aims to design a program for refugee artists who want to experiment with game engine tools. Srushti is working with Narratio, an organization focused on empowering storytellers from displaced populations. With the proliferation of virtual production and game engines as tools for 3D graphic artists and intersectional works, then a massive barrier to entry over the next decade could easily be a limited skillset. If the barrier is technical know-how, then this is merely a starting point. Srushti hopes to build a prototype for the workshop and development of emerging technologies with emerging artistic communities.
Azania Umoja (Architecture, G’25)
Azania will be working with an organic, rural farm located on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. The farm has been raising bees for the past six years. During this time, they have noticed several challenges related to their bees producing 50% less honey than the national average. They have identified humidity as the primary issue, which causes the bees to produce less honey. Additionally, they are located at a high altitude and experience rain for 9 out of the 12 months of the year, which limits their harvests to only 3 times per year. The farm’s location on a sloped mountain also poses a challenge as the rain accumulates near the base of the beehives. Through a structural redesign of the existing Langstroth hives, Azania aims to assist in the curation of a permaculture-designed micro-ecosystem to shield the hives from the humidity and increase flora and fauna available to pollinate–ideally increasing the bees’ honey production. Her project aspirations around this redesign will ideally complement a site climate analysis that will locate the optimal placement of the hives to increase their exposure to the sun.
Julia Wyatt (Mechanical Engineering, UG’22)
Julia will continue working with the World Wildlife Fund this semester, researching climate resilience in agriculture and what different stakeholders mean when they talk about “resilience.” Climate resilience as a concept is important to Julia because it helps communities who depend on agriculture to adapt to increasingly frequent and severe climate events, like droughts and floods. Several frameworks exist that aim to quantify how resilient a farm or region is to climate events, taking into account factors like soil health, reservoir availability, fertilizing strategy, and many, many more. The goal of these frameworks is to allow Julia and her colleagues to compare resilience between communities and quantitatively estimate how well a community will be able to recover from a climate shock to their agricultural systems. Thus far, Julia’s work with the WWF has focused on comparing these frameworks with case-specific literature to understand what metrics different groups and organizations are using to quantify and describe climate resilience. The WWF has existing partnerships with corporations that source ingredients from climate-vulnerable regions and Julia is working with her community partners to identify communities to whom these resilience frameworks could be useful.
Summer DUSP-PKG Fellows
Daniel Caesar Pratama (Urban Studies and Planning, G’23)
Daniel will be researching housing affordability changes in transit-oriented development areas in Jakarta. This research will inform how landowners, business owners, and developers can start thinking about their development impacts on the neighborhood, especially the low-income community.
Elaine Wang (Urban Studies & Planning, G ‘23)
This summer, Elaine is partnering with Frolic, a non-profit organization based in Seattle. Frolic works with homeowners who are facing displacement and redevelops their lots into 6-10 unit housing cooperatives. With their model, Frolic is bringing affordable units to Seattle, preventing displacement, and allowing low-income renters to build generational wealth. Elaine’s work will build on Frolic’s existing projects in Seattle’s Central District. Elaine will be working with them this summer to develop a digital platform to allow residents, homeowners, as well as Frolic’s network of builders, architects, developers, impact investors, and lenders to build new projects. This tool will dramatically increase their impact and scalability in this community and beyond.
Nicholette Cameron (Urban Studies & Planning, G’22)
Frolic, a Seattle-based organization, works with property owners facing displacement and co-develops their lots into 6-10-unit housing cooperatives. This helps homeowners stay in their communities while also creating new affordable homeownership units. Given the history of racialized and exclusionary tactics in the real estate industry, a critical part of this model is becoming a trusted partner to homeowners and creating a development tool that is equitable and empowering. This summer, Nicholette will be interviewing and working with homeowners and community members in the Central District, a historically Black community that has seen the Black population drop to under 15%. Nicholette’s goal is to understand their goals and dreams for both their individual properties and the community at large. This project will result in a toolkit to assist homeowners in navigating this opportunity and confirming whether working with Frolic’s model will help them achieve their goals.
Nick Allen (Urban Studies and Planning, G’25)
Residents of Detroit pay the highest property taxes in the United States. The city’s property tax regime imposes racial wealth penalties, undermines capital formation, and accelerates abandonment. In coordination with the City of Detroit, community, and state partners, Nick’s project takes steps to pass and implement reforms that would reduce residents’ excess tax burdens and enable broader economic recovery.
Davis Projects for Peace Fellow
Mohamed Mohamed (Aeronautics and Astronautics, UG’22)
Mohamed will be working in collaboration with the BGUrban Lab. The Lab and its affiliates are deeply embedded in issues facing the Bedouin community. They involve urban planners as well as social scientists that have spent decades working on equity and rights issues in the Negev. Their work is helping advance equity and inclusion of all communities in the region, and it will be an honor to continue working with them. Together, Mohamed and colleagues will work with the Bedouin community in delivering the “CitizenTent” project. This has been inspired by workshops in the UK using the “Bristol Approach,” which aimed at a citizen-led “smart city” workshop to cultivate projects that the residents formulate. In designing this CitizenTent, they will work with BGUrban Lab affiliates and Bedouin community leaders with who they already have relationships in creating an effective project. The course will involve multi-week programming where participants can learn about digital citizenship/digital.
Interested in PKG Fellowships? Visit our Fellowships webpage to learn more about future opportunities, upcoming dates and deadlines, and application guidelines!