Informatics student Matthew Hicks is part of a team of University of Washington undergraduate students that learned this week they had won one of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grants. Hicks and his team were chosen from more than 2,400 proposals to be one of 65 research groups honored. The team, which consisted of students from Computer Science and Engineering, Human-Centered Design and Engineering and Mathematics, developed a low-cost portable ultrasound device they hope can drastically reduce childbirth-related mortality rates in the developing world.
The project emerged out of a class with Profesor Beth Kolko in HCDE. The UW students and faculty are testing their device this month on pregnant women at the UW Medical Center and Harborview. They will use the grant to travel to Africa to test their system in its ultimate capacity as a tool to increase access to ultrasound and lower childbirth-related mortality, which kills an estimated 1,000 women each day, almost entirely in the developing world.