Emergency Floor: Modular Flooring for Refugee Housing Units


Due to cost restrictions and logistical constraints, refugee and post-disaster camps often lack adequate flooring, leaving inhabitants exposed to the raw elements underfoot, parasites, wastewater, and the risk of hypothermia. Good Works Studios, a for-profit social enterprise, has designed low-cost, easily transportable raised flooring units that snap together to fit existing shelters.

As a consultant for the Emergency Floor product, I modeled potential infections averted, including disability-adjusted life-year loss prevention, and potential cost savings following product implementation. I am assisting with the evaluation protocol for a pilot grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and provide cultural and regional expertise on conditions in refugee camps in Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan. I've also assisted with grants and proposals from aid agencies, NGOs, and private companies totaling over $500k in seed revenue.


Dunia Health: Improving Vaccination Rates for Refugees in Jordan with Text Message Reminders

 I co-founded a product-based nonprofit to improve immunization rates among refugees in the Middle East. We partnered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to automatically send text message reminders to patients who missed vaccine appointments. I took on this project because of a broader interest in the relationship between development and security, aiming to mitigate hostility toward a strained agency among a displaced population through better service provision.

Current goals include piloting this system with clinics in Lebanon and the West Bank, integrating mobile reminders into their existing electronic medical records system, and transferring ownership of the platform to nurse management on a clinic-by-clinic basis. We've served Taybeh Health Center in Amman for over a year, returning some babies to medical care after over 100 days of absence.

This project is also the basis for my master's thesis. Patients clearly preferred reminders before appointments, but staff at UNRWA headquarters were concerned about cost and wanted to only send them to patients who forgot. To merge these interests, I tracked a cohort of patients to create a predictive model that identifies patients most likely to miss appointments so we can target messages to this group (saving money & time).

Our work was honored by President Clinton at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative meeting and by President Obama at the 2015 Global Emerging Entrepreneurs event. We work in areas where conflict and budget constraints interrupt continual implementation, and so we try to supplement those efforts with strong advocacy in the meantime; to that end, these instances have been delightfully surreal.

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Breath Alert: A Neonatal Apnea Monitor for Low-Resource Hospitals

For my capstone project as an undergraduate, my team and I designed a $25, battery-powered device to to detect and correct episodes of suspended breathing in premature infants. This is particularly common in sub-Saharan Africa, where malnourished mothers frequently give birth early and overworked nursing staff can't always keep an eye on every baby in a crowded clinic. Our design consisted of a size-adjustable strap with a stretch sensor, an attached microcontroller to track respiratory rate, a vibration motor to stimulate breathing, a flashing light to alert medical staff, and a Bluetooth attachment to transmit records and log instances of apnea at a central station.

Thanks to the hard work of successive design teams & faculty and staff members still at Rice, this project has won a Saving Lives at Birth grant from USAID and is in the process of moving to market.

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