inspirational speaker

today i attended a talk by Nithya Ramanathan, the founder and president of NEXLEAF ANALYTICS, a non-profit lab in collaboration with UCLA whose goal is to develop methods for low-tech cell phones to obtain quantitative measurements of various climate-impact pollutants.  She’s just got back from a very poor Indian village where she helped installing basic portable devices inside people kitchens to measure black carbon emitted from their mud stoves.  The device is a simple piece of equipment which pumps air into a filter.  Villagers will then take a picture of the filter using their cell phone cameras, and upload it (the picture) to a central location on the internet where her lab would analyze the image to determine concentration of black carbon.  This sounds rather a simple task, except it requires such a capable person (and team) to mobilize people in the most remote parts of the world to take part in data collection and contribute to the global mapping of black carbon in particular and climate-impact pollutants in general.  The impact is large because the villagers can directly measure their own air quality and will be highly motivated (if financially permitted) to buy cleaner stoves and devices.  So the project serves both to improve human health and the environment.

And as smart as she is, crisply explaining and answering all questions to great details, she remained very humble and continued to ask for feedback from the audience to improve her techniques and devices.  Several people in the audience who seem to be experts in the various parts of designing volunteered both their times and efforts to help her in anyway she needed (her eyes lit up).  In fact, she’s looking for places to put her instruments in the Los Angeles area, so I’m curious if she has a site where people can sign up for that :-).  This requires commitment of course to remove the filter everyday and snap a picture using your cell phones.  If I find out, i’ll update it here.

So, all in all, a very inspirational speaker! such a young, talented, and capable woman scientist with a big vision.  i highly impressed!


About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

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