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Seven Students Ready to Ignite Impact as Summer 2022 Accelerator Fellows

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Students are sitting around tables in the Do Good Accelerator

The Do Good Institute is excited to announce that seven passionate and talented students will be serving as Do Good Accelerator Fellows this summer! The Accelerator Fellows program provides students with resources and opportunities to explore, test, or scale up their idea, project, or venture while working with peers who are also tackling important social issues. This summer, students will meet with their other Fellows, participate in 1:1 coaching sessions with field experts, engage in robust workshops and immerse themselves in various group activities with industry leaders. 

Fellows were selected after a competitive application process and will receive a stipend of $3,000 to support their work over the course of the program. The program launched on June 6 and will end on July 29. From combatting climate change through artificial intelligence to addressing food insecurity through accessible food pantries, our Summer Fellows are focusing on a number of important social issues. 

I am eager to work with our Summer Fellows cohort. This diverse group of students is tackling pertinent issues across the globe and I can't wait to see how they develop and scale up their projects throughout the summer.
Kisha Monroe Do Good Accelerator Manager

Meet our Summer 2022 Do Good Accelerator Fellows

Tushar Bali, Parkinson’s Disease Story Exchange

Tushar is a rising junior neurobiology and physiology major and co-founder of the Parkinson’s Disease Story Exchange project. Parkinson’s Disease Story Exchange (PDSE) is a media outlet project that revitalizes the social and societal stigma surrounding Parkinson’s disease. Doing so gives those directly and indirectly affected with Parkinson’s disease a platform to share their triumphs and wisdom, fueling awareness for the Parkinsonism community. PDSE has received international recognition from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Davis Phinney Foundation, and Stanford Medicine’s Scope blog. Stories of anyone affected by Parkinson’s disease, including patients, caregivers, family members, clinicians, physical therapists, trainers, therapists and researchers are widespread with a mission to educate and amplify unheard voices. As Parkinson’s diagnoses become increasingly common throughout the U.S., PDSE aims to work on sharing more informational mediums to guide those diagnosed or unfamiliar with Parkinsonism no matter the life stage they are currently in. The Parkinson’s Disease Story Exchange shrinks the gap between the “what to know” and the “I don’t knows” in a tangible, easily- accessible, digestible audio-visual format.

Saptarashmi Bandyopadhyay, Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning

Saptarashmi is a Ph.D. student of computer science at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is working on the project of Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning (MARL) to solve interdiction games of social impact where the goal is to apply, accelerate and scale the latest generalizable state-of-the-art ideas of artificial intelligence and reinforcement learning to address challenging social problems. The idea of MARL is to model multiple human/autonomous agents interacting with each other fostering competition and cooperation as its learning evolves. MARL has multiple applications in solving game theory problems like discovering, analyzing and disrupting illicit trafficking networks (be it arms, humans, wildlife, rare plants and deforested trees, illegal drugs, counterfeit goods), equitable markets, fair tax policies, climate change and existential disasters like pandemics. The goal of interdiction games is to assign limited checkpoints by defenders (e.g., rangers in a wildlife reserve) to catch attackers (e.g. elephant poachers) from targeting secure assets (e.g. elephants). The challenge becomes that the multiple agents in an ever-changing environment can interact with multiple options where the goal is to find an optimal policy to help defenders catch attackers and protect green assets. In this area, Saptarashmi has published a green security game workshop paper from AAAI-22 ( Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) predicting vulnerable hotspots susceptible to deforestation in Indonesia, whose islands are emerging as a focal point for climate change.

Sarika Kapadia, The Unforgotten Fund

Sarika is a rising sophomore cellular biology and molecular genetics major and an aspiring Doctor Without Borders member. She is the program manager for The Unforgotten Fund (UNFF), a U.S.-based organization that seeks to provide humanitarian relief overseas in developing countries. As many crises arise globally and many are in need of emergency health and shelter, this zero-overhead organization seeks to execute sustainable projects in sanitation, housing, food, health care treatment and more. Additionally, the UNFF seeks to target extremely impoverished communities in long-term projects centered on education and livelihood improvement. The Unforgotten is building a 3-classroom school in the Chingwere District of Lusaka, Zambia. The UNFF is working to create a library and computer lab in this school to encourage the students to stay in school instead of trash-picking in the city's largest trash dump (a common practice), as they will be provided with food, clothing and more.

Paniz Nafisi, Helping Hands Mobile Clinic

Paniz is a junior government & politics and general biology double-major with a minor in international development and conflict management. Helping Hands Mobile Clinic aims to address the issue of health disparities in Baltimore by providing basic health needs assessments to unhoused populations without the overwhelming cost of establishing a traditional clinic, but with the same range of care traditional clinics would provide. There exists a gap in the access to healthcare pipeline, exacerbated by homelessness in target populations. Many of these individuals are unable to seek or receive treatment for chronic conditions due to various reasons, including lack of insurance, low health literacy and linguistic barriers. The Helping Hands Mobile Clinic seeks to address these issues by bridging the gap that currently serves as a barrier using a multifaceted approach model. The organization works with community partnerships to reach and build relationships with potential patients, assists individuals by providing information and assistance in navigating access to healthcare services and opportunities available to them and provides basic healthcare needs and preliminary resources.

Frederique Wandji, The Hopeful Project

Frederique is a School of Public Health community health and preventive medicine graduate and founder of the Hopeful Project. She will begin her Masters of Science of public health at John Hopkins in the fall. The Hopeful Project believes that having shelter, food, water and access to hygiene services are basic human needs and rights that everyone deserves. The organization aims to alleviate health inequalities and food insecurity in low-income communities by mobilizing resources to individuals facing homelessness and connecting them to resources to improve their quality of life. Presently, The Hopeful Project is creating accessible pantries containing products, food, and household items as well as many other items for women and children who are facing homelessness. The mission of the Hopeful Project is geared toward addressing the issues of food insecurity in Prince George’s County and raising awareness about the health inequalities impacting people of color.

Jiawen Zhang

Jiawen is a Ph.D. student in the department of communication at the University of Maryland. She earned her master’s degree in higher education with an emphasis on student affairs and a bachelor’s degree in media studies from Penn State University.  As an instructor of record, she has always devoted herself to advocating for diversity and inclusion in teaching and learning. She initiated a training program to provide resources to support BIPOC and international instructors of record and graduate teaching assistants in addressing microaggressions in the classroom. The training program includes an individualized needs assessment of BIPOC and international GAs; modules that contain information about microaggressions, implicit bias, hate bias and different solution plans to those issues; as well as the customized impact evaluation of individuals who have completed the program. This training program was designed to deepen the awareness of microaggressions among BIPOC and international communities and to advocate for solidarity among all communities to promote diversity and inclusion in the higher education system.

Xinyi Zhang, The Multicultural Game

Xinyi is a third-year doctoral student in the School of Psychology and creator of the Multicultural Game. The Multicultural Game is a fun tool for parents, psychologists and educators to engage in conversations regarding anti-racism and multicultural issues with elementary school children. The Multicultural Game is the first of its kind to blend elements of board game adventure with cultural awareness building. Through this game, Xinyi and her team aim to 1. validate the lived experiences of children of color and make them feel proud of their own cultures; 2. increase children’s cultural competency and social-emotional learning (SEL) skills; and 3. empower parents and adults working with children to initiate deep discussions around cultural issues in their everyday life. Xinyi is thrilled to become a Do Good Accelerator Fellow and can't wait to further develop the game with her team over the summer!
 

If you would like to learn more about the Summer Accelerator Fellows' initiatives or would like to provide any feedback or assistance regarding their projects please reach out to Kisha Monroe, Accelerator Manager, at kvmonroe@umd.edu


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