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Guest Lecture: "Designing and Building Mobile Technology for Underserved Communities" with Dr. Nicola "Nicki" Dell

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
10 - 11:15 a.m.
Allen Auditorium

The goal of my research is to design, build, deploy, and evaluate novel computing systems that improve the lives of underserved populations in low-income regions. As computing technologies become affordable and accessible to diverse populations across the globe, it is critical that we expand the focus of HCI research to study the social, technical, and infrastructural challenges faced by these diverse communities and build systems that address problems in critical domains such as health care and education. In this talk, I describe my general approach to building technologies for underserved communities, including identifying opportunities for technology, conducting formative research to fully understand the space, developing novel technologies, iteratively testing and deploying, evaluating with target populations, and handing off to global development organizations for long-term sustainability. I focus on two examples of systems that I built to address challenges faced by rural health workers: one that automatically digitizes data from paper forms, and another that automatically interprets diagnostic tests for infectious diseases. Through extensive evaluations of these systems with target populations in Sub-Saharan Africa, my works highlights the potential for novel technological solutions to help new and diverse populations address global challenges.


Nicki Dell is an Assistant Professor in Information Science at Cornell Tech. Her research spans Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) with a focus on designing, building, and evaluating novel computing systems that improve the lives of underserved populations in low-income regions. Nicki’s research and outreach activities have been recognized through numerous paper awards and fellowships, including a Graduate Facebook Fellowship and a Google Anita Borg Scholarship. Nicki was born and raised in Zimbabwe and received a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of East Anglia (UK) in 2004, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Washington in 2011 and 2015 respectively.

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