DIL Explore Projects

Explore grants are open to researchers across the DIL network and support international travel to develop a new idea or establish partnerships.

DIL Explore Travel Grants Awarded Fall 2013

Quantifying the Impact of Biotechnologies on Cacao

Location: Indonesia

Cacao production is often marked by the sudden onset of pests and diseases, driving high production losses and threatening the livelihood security of 5-6 million smallholder farmers that source 90% of all cacao globally.

This project will focus on how novel biotechnologies are affecting the livelihood security of cacao farmers by piloting a robust qualitative and quantitative research program in Indonesia.


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Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew Potts

Traveling Team Member: Lisa Kelly

Lisa is a PhD Student in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management and the Matthew D. Potts Lab Group. Her work examines smallholder agriculture in Southeast Asia, examining the ecological and socioeconomic effects of different management practices at the field, farm, and landscape levels.


Designing a Business Model for Toilet Waste

Location: Nairobi, Kenya

Ryan Jung and William Tarpeh will be working together to develop a sustainable business model for the treatment of potentially pathogenic waste from on-plot and in-home toilets in Nairobi, Kenya.

Through pilot testing of several prototypes with users, the team will identify key inputs, and develop a framework for designing and evaluating business models for household toilets.



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Principal Investigator: Dr. Kara Nelson

Traveling Team Member: Ryan Jung

Ryan is a second-year MBA student with experience in international conflict mediation, restorative justice, and commercial technology lending. He is interested in social entrepreneurship and its applications in the developing world.



Traveling Team Member: William Tarpeh

William is a second-year Environmental Engineering PhD student. He specializes in ammonia disinfection of, and resource recovery from waste and aims to increase sustainable access to sanitation in the developing world.




UC Berkeley-Global Brigades Collaboration for Water Research in Panama

Location: Panama

In Panama, community water systems serving less than 1,500 inhabitants are under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and often operated by non-governmental organizations such as Global Brigades (GB).  The UC Berkeley team is establishing a collaboration with Global Brigades.



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They will train in-country staff in the basics of data collection, protection of human subjects, etc., and set up systems for multi-level assessment of development projects. The program will serve as a model for projects in other GB countries and for the donor/aid community at large.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Isha Ray

Traveling Team Member: Dr. Charlotte Smith

Charlotte is a Faculty Lecturer in the School of Public Health’s Environmental Health Sciences Division. Dr. Smith brings 28 years of experience in the global water sector to this collaboration. She teaches Drinking Water and Health, and advises students at all levels on projects related to drinking water quality and treatment.



Traveling Team Member: Rucker Alex

Rucker is a Masters student in UC Berkeley’s City and Regional Planning program with a focus on water provision in developing countries. She has over 10 years of business experience in evaluation, designing, and implementing technologies for small and large public and private sector organizations.



Traveling Team Member: Laura Telep

Laura is a Master’s in Public Health student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Division. Ms. Telep has worked as both a computer programmer and an educator for over 20 years, and brings both project management and training experience to the project.



Traveling Team Member: Claire Quiner

Claire is a Master’s in Public Health student in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Division. Ms. Quiner brings data analysis and study design skills to the project. She comes equipped with a strong background in development work as well as fluency in Spanish. She has worked in both rural and urban settings in Latin America.




An Assessment of the Indian Poultry Market

Location: India

This study will analyze the current practices used in different poultry sheds in India in order to explore the current status and potential for technology improvements fo the poultry market. The ambient conditions in the poultry shed influenced the productivity of the bird in terms of the number of eggs and kilograms of meat it produces over its lifetime.



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Feed efficiency directly affects the owner’s profit margins, with nearly 70-80% of expenditures going to feed cost. The other important factor in poultry production is the ambient temperature of the poultry house. This study will explore the impacts of different heating techniques and other differences between large and smaller scale poultry production to assess the status of the industry.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Amrit Arora

Dr. Arora is an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay within the Center for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA). Before joining IIT Bombay, he worked as an Assistant Professor in the Paper Science and Engineering Department of the University of Wisconsin. He obtained a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering (ABE) from the University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign. His research interest lies in rural development, biofuels production, biomass supply chains, and food processing.



The Southeast Asia Renewable and Adaptive Energy (SEA-RAE) Network

Location: Vietnam

The SEA-RAE network will pilot an integrative social and financial model to bring a new energy system to an island community in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Currently, the lack of modern energy services on the island acts as an obstacle for community and individual goals and projects. SEA-RAE intends to empower communities by way of electricity; tailoring the system’s design to meet the unique user needs and climate of the region.


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Principal Investigator: Dr. Dan Kammen


Traveling Team Member: Jalel Sager

Jalel provides oversight of the SAE-RAE network. He is PhD candidate with the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. Jalel has extensive experience in the realm of sustainable development; having both founded the Vietnam Green Business Council (VGBC), no the nation’s leading green building organization, in 2007, and having studies the field of political economy of energy and climate change extensively. Jalel is also a recipient of the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship, a US Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, and a National Marit Scholarship.


Traveling Team Member: Austin Cappon

Austin is the director of operations for the SEA-RAE network. He is an alumnus of the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, his academic interests focused on the nexus between energy and community development, and he worked on a variety of projects that assessed the impacts of energy on the social, economic, and environmental livelihoods of remote communities. In conjunction with his familiarity with project management, Austin’s academic experience informs his role as the director of operations.


Traveling Team Member: Jonathan Lee

Jonathan is the lead technical advisor to the SEA-RAE network. Jonathan has field experience designing and installing off-grid solar energy systems on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, and research experience exploring the diagnostic and control applications of novel measurement technologies in power distribution networks. His widespread academic experiences in conjunction with his practical knowledge ensure his qualification as the lead technical advisor for the project.



Urban Sanitation Management

Location: India and Bangladesh

Sanitation in South Asian cities has not been catching up with urbanization, migration, and growth in population. This mismatch has led to an increase in households connected to septic tanks and thereby necessitating the management of fecal sludge in those septic tanks.This project will analyze the existing practices of fecal sludge management in the cities of India and Bangladesh.


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Principal Investigator: Dr. Kara Nelson
Traveling Team Member: Sharada Prasad

Sharada is a PhD student with the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley. His broader research is focused on water and sanitation problems in South Asia.




Income-Generating Development Data Collection Platform

Location: Worldwide

Data for development is sparse and oftentimes expensive to procure. SmartAsks is a proposed platform that would provide income opportunities to the poor while collecting and generating data to be used for development.




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This system has three primary goals: 1) Provide information task income opportunities for the poor, 2) create an easy and inexpensive platform for collecting data from the poor, and 3) generate a behavioral value-of-time welfare indicator for the poor.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Tapan Parikh

Traveling Team Member: Robert On

Robert is a PhD candidate at the School of Information at Berkeley researching ICTD. He has a background in EECS and Statistics and spent most of his career as a Software Engineer at Google.




Developing Solar Photo-Voltaics for Thai Communities

Location: Thailand

This project will initiate a research collaboration with the Energy Research Institute at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.  The team will work with government, utility, and industry stakeholders to inform an analysis of energy storage and grid-integration needs for community solar projects.



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Principal Investigator: Dr. Dan Kammen

Traveling Team Member: Noah Kittner

Noah is an M.S./PhD student in the Energy and Resources Group. Previously, he has worked on the Thailand Solar PV Roadmap project and has conducted research on solar electricity in Thailand on a Fullbright Scholarship.





The NOx Box: Low-Cost On-Demand Sanitation of Medical Instruments

Location: Uganda

Connor Galleher and Matt Pavlovich are developing a frugal disinfection device, the NOx Box, intended for low-cost and on-demand sanitation of medical instruments, and other contaminated surfaces. The NOx Box is particularly well-suited to the developing world and other low-resource settings because it requires only air and electricity to create a disinfectant.



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Testing in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering laboratory of David Graves has shown that at least 99.99% of bacteria are inactivated within 5 minutes of device operation, and the current challenge is to improve the laboratory prototype into a device that works robustly in the field, according to the specifications required by eventual users.

Principal Investigator: Dr. David Graves

Traveling Team Member: Connor Galleher

Connor is a fourth year undergraduate student, a Regents and Chancellor Scholar who anticipates graduating in May 2014. Connor’s research in the Graves lab in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has focused on practical application of low-temperature ambient gas plasmas.



Traveling Team Member: Matt Pavlovich

Matt is a fifth-year graduate student in the Graves lab in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. His research has focused on the basic science and application of ambient-gas plasma disinfection, with a particular interest in characterizing gas- and aqueous-phase chemistry and correlating it to plasma antimicrobial effects.



DIL Explore Travel Grants Awarded Summer 2013

Cutting-Edge Cookstove Emissions Measurement

Location: Australia

This grant will seed a collaborative effort between the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, and the University of Adelaide to evaluate the effects of cookstove design modifications on combustion emissions using laser diagnostic techniques.




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If successful, this project would provide cutting edge technology in the field of cookstove development. The long-term effort would aim to develop an inexpensive and robust diagnostic system for cookstove emissions measurement. This will provide designers and researchers in the field with much needed diagnostic tools and information, allowing new potential for guidance to future cookstove designs and combustion mediation.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ashok Gadgil

Traveling Team Member: Kathleen Lask

Katherine is a PhD student in Applied Science and Technology at UC Berkeley. Expected graduation, May 2015.



Sustainable Fluoride Remediation

Location: India

Worldwide, approximately 200 million people are drinking water with toxic levels of naturally occurring fluoride. Although many technologies have demonstrated high levels of fluoride removal in a lab setting, few technologies have been successfully deployed in the field. The team will explore potential options for sustainable flouride remediation in the Nalgonda District of India.


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Team member Katya Cherukumilli will define the extent of the flouride contamination, and examine the success and sustainability of current efforts and technologies available locally. Katya seeks to understand current flouride treatment gaps, the scale-up potential of these techniques, and to build relationships with local stakeholders.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ashok Gadgil
Principal Investigator: Dr. Susan Amrose
Principal Investigator: Dr. Martin Mulvihill

Traveling Team Member: Katya Cherukumilli

Katya is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley.




Cost-Effective Arsenic Remediation Models

Location: India and Bangladesh

Over 60 million people in South Asia drink groundwater naturally contaminated with arsenic. Chronic exposure can lead to death and many other negative health and economic impacts, especially for the poor households in the region. The solution is two-fold, requiring a low-cost and efficient arsenic remediation technology as well as an inclusive, cost-effective, wide-reaching and sustainable distributional model.










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In order to design a best approach for implementing the technology and behavioral adaption in the area, Caroline will conduct a study of social drivers for and barriers to the purchasing and consumption of safe water in a target community in West Bengal, India. Research plans include surveying 300 to 500 households in order to analyze different household water purchasing and consuming choices.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ashok Gadgil
Principal Investigator: Dr. Isha Ray
Principal Investigator: Dr. Joyashree Roy

Traveling Team Member: Caroline Delaire
Caroline measuring arsenic levels at Krishna Chandrapur High School, 24 Paraganas South, West Bengal in July of 2012

Caroline is a PhD student in Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley.




Low-Cost Voltage Monitoring of Indian Electricity Grids

Location: India

The Indian power grid reaches 90% of villages, however rural consumers face several problems. The quality of the electricity supplied is questionable, with voltage fluctuations leading to motor burnout, as well as load shedding and unscheduled power cuts. Quality electricity plays an important role in the potential economic development of these rural areas.



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Priya proposes to design, prototype and deploy a low-cost voltage monitoring device that will monitor voltage and harmonics content of grid supply in partnership with CTARA and Prayas Energy Group (PEG). She plans to set up the devices at 5 different locations initially, gathering missing data that will be useful for regulatory commissions. The project will conclude with a technology and system demonstration which can be adopted at a larger scale by government bodies.

Host: Matt Podolsky, TIER
Traveling Team Member: Priya Jadhav

Priya holds a PhD in the area of Organic Semiconductor solar cells. She worked in the software industry for ten years. Now, Priya focuses her work on the rural issues concerning grid electricity, photovoltaics for water pumping, and the interaction of photovoltaics and the grid.