DR.
MICHAEL L. BEST
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES & INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Students

Amanda Meng

Amanda is interested in how Information Communication Technology (ICT) is a tool for enhancing development and democracy outcomes. Her ICT background started as an Education/ICT Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Her Peace Corps projects included creating a functional, high school computer lab, working with local stone carving artisans to build a website, and leading youth in community based ICT projects. While at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, she did work with Dr. Jenny Aker to build a census of mobile phones for development projects for Google Ideas. She also used GIS spatial analysis tools to support the robustness of Dr. Aker's impact evaluation of using mobile money to distribute cash transfers in Niger. Amanda spent the summer of 2012 in India where she was doing preliminary qualitative research on the socioeconomic impact of a mobile phone based social enterprise that sends text messages on the water delivery schedule. Currently, her work is split between Dr. Mike Best's Technologies in International Development lab and the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing. With Dr. Best, Amanda assists in a consulting project looking to expand financial inclusion in Ghana through the use of emerging technologies. Finally her work with Dr. Carl DiSalvo in the Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing investigates the deployment of an online platform to aid in the passage of a new zoning ordinance for urban agriculture in the city of Atlanta.

Olufunke "Funke" Adebola

Funke is a graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. Her background is in Space law, telecommunications law and policy, environmental and energy law, and labor law. At Dr. Mike Best's Technologies in International Development lab, Funke assists on the financial inclusion in Ghana through the use of emerging technologies. Prior to Georgia Tech, Funke worked with the International Telecommunication Union Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on Information and Communication Technologies and Development. She also worked with the European Space Policy Institute in Vienna, Austria on evaluating European and African co-operation in space activities. At the International Labor Organisation, Geneva, Switzerland, Funke worked on employment and transition to low-carbon economies.

Hank Blumenthal

Blumenthal is a Ph.D. candidate in the Digital Media Program at Georgia Tech. He has a background in producing, creative direction, and user experience design for applications, augmented reality apps, iphone and android apps, websites, iTV interfaces, games, commercials, music videos and feature films. He won a Grand Jury Prize for his feature film In the Soup, and a Webby for the music site Sputnik7.com (now defunct.) As Program Manager for Emerging Media he launched multiple Media Center iTV channels for Viacom/Microsoft (MTV, Nick, Comedy Central, VH1) and designed an internet TV interface for Panasonic TV’s with Google partner apps YouTube and Picassa. His focus at Georgia Tech is on transmedia storytelling and interactive narrative models. Recent projects include working as a lead designer on a universal threshold object to investigate immersive TV stories for Intel with the Experimental TV lab of Dr. Janet Murray, developing a digital memorial for Liberia and a Nollywood rich media project with Dr. Michael Best’s Technologies in International Development lab, and creating and publishing about a transmedia story, The Ghost Club, a storyscape told across movies, games, webisodes, augmented reality, and social media under his advisor Dr. Jay Bolter.

Alex Stelea

Alex is a sophomore pursing a B.S. in Computer Science. Alex strongly believes in the potential of technology in improving society. His passion for technology and educations stems from his TEDxYouthDay talk in Athens, Greece. He also works part-time with Prezi and is a big tennis fan. Alex is currently working on the Aggie 2.0 project in the lab.

Selected Previous Students

Lyndsey Erwin

Lyndsey Erwin is a graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and editorial assistant of the journal Information Technologies & International Development. She has a background in journalism and most recently was an editor at a public health journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

John Etherton

John is currently working for Georgia Tech as the project director in Liberia. He has received both bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from Georgia Tech. While studying for his master's, John traveled to Liberia to work on the website of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Thomas Smyth

Thomas is a Ph.D student in the School of Interactive Computing. His background is in interface design and human computer interaction, and he has done ICT work in Ghana prior to beginning his Ph.D studies. Thomas is a member of the Liberia kiosk project team, and is interested in studying the role of ICTs in international development for his thesis research.

Daniel Serrano-Baquero

Daniel is pursuing a Master in Human Computer Interaction from Georgia Tech's College of Computing. He has a background in Computer Science and experience in developing software applications for rural contexts. His research focuses on computer interfaces that facilitate interaction with complex systems in low literacy contexts. He has worked in the Liberia Kiosk project and is now studying the role of conversational agents in the aforementioned contexts.