PKG Alum, Mercy Oladipo featured in MIT News!

MIT senior Mercy Oladipo, a joint major in computer science and molecular biology, uses her coding skills to build tools addressing disparities in health care.
Photo: Jodi Hilton

Choosing a major was a long process for Mercy Oladipo. Coming into MIT, she was interested in both computer science and medicine, but a plan for how those passions would intersect took some time to coalesce.

Oladipo finally settled on a joint major in computer science and molecular biology, which allowed her to dive into computer science and also fulfill her pre-med class requirements.

At face value, the classes in her two majors “are very far-removed,” says Oladipo. “You don’t really touch any interaction until your junior or senior year, but it helped me feel like I could do whatever I want and chart my own path.”

Now a senior, Oladipo has pursued a range of opportunities that allow her to apply her coding skills to build tools for health care, with support from MIT’s PKG Center. These include exploring health disparities in end-of-life care with the Clinical Decision-Making Group in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, revamping the webpage for the Boston Medical Center’s Autism Friendly Initiative, and creating websites for studies run by Tufts University’s Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (M.O.T.H.E.R.) Lab.

For Oladipo, the through-line among her interests has always been equity, whether in health care or in education.

An app for Black mothers

Everything came together when Oladipo participated as a sophomore in Womxn Ignite, a tech incubator for women interested in public interest technology. It was there that she first had the idea for Birth By Us, a startup she co-founded with Ijeoma Uche, a second-year master’s student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Birth By Us is a pregnancy and postpartum app built by and for Black women. The goal is to be a centralized source of information throughout the entire birth experience, from prenatal appointments to postpartum recovery. Every day, users fill out a questionnaire to screen for symptoms that are often overlooked, and will be provided with resources tailored to their personal experience. With Birth By Us, Oladipo hopes to address the racial disparity in maternal deaths while also forging stronger connections between community programs and Black mothers.

Now a senior, Oladipo still sees many paths ahead of her following graduation. Over the next few years, she plans to keep working on and scaling Birth By Us. She’d also like to attend medical school and pursue maternal health research in other contexts.

“Everything is very intertwined,” Oladipo says when asked about what comes next. “It’s all the same topic in different fonts.”

Oladipo also says she isn’t stressed about the uncertainty in her future. She credits that comfort to the support she receives from her family and her faith. Oladipo is grateful for her family’s presence in her life, whether that’s in the form of advice from her parents and two older siblings or daily calls from her younger brother.

Read the full article on MIT News

Mercy Oladipo participated in PKG IAP:Health, was a PKG Fellow, and was awarded a grant for their app Birth By Us at IDEAS 2022. Read more about Mercy’s PKG IAP:Health internship here. Read more about Mercy’s PKG Fellowship experience here. Read more about Mercy’s IDEAS 2022 grant and project here.

Tags: Health, Health & Medicine, IDEAS, PKG Alumni, PKG Fellowships, Tech for Good

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