At home or abroad, the students of UMass Lowell's HDSC are always seeking new pathways to critical change.

Robert Giles, Professor, Chair, Distinguished University Professor at UMass Lowell headshot photo.


To engage science and engineering faculty and students in philanthropic research focused on solving life-threatening issues faced by citizens in impoverished countries.

"As a student and as a professor, the opportunities to follow are limitless. A place where research is a pathway to critical change."
- Prof. Robert Giles, HDSC Director


Read about how UMass Lowell faculty and students are researching biodigester solutions to Haiti's sanitation issues.

The Harsh Reality

A young girl fetches contaminated water from a community well in Les Cayes, Haiti in 2013.

A young girl fetches water from a community well in Les Cayes, Haiti.

Countries identified by the International Banking System as having 3rd and 4th world status suffer from over-population, soil erosion, drought, and famine. However, resources such as potable water and sufficient food supplies are not the only barriers to economic development in the most densely populated regions of the world.

Fragmented politically and socially, the general population in these labor-rich countries face environmentally induced health issues due to chemical and biological contaminants in the air, water, soil and locally grown food.

Whether human-caused or naturally occurring, these contaminants are crippling communities in impoverished countries. They are compromising the health of the indigenous population, defeating foreign investment for positive change and eliminating possible global participation of the local work force. Only treating the contaminant-induced societal symptoms, international aid agencies developing programs to support public work’s projects and medical clinics are often exhausted before sustainable change occurs in the poorest regions.

  • 80%

    Rural Haitians Living In Poverty

  • $250

    Per Capita Income - less than 1/10 the Latin American avg.

  • 1/4

    Population with Access to Safe Water

  • 200,000

    Population Growth Rate Per Year

  • 25%

    Vaccination Coverage for Children

  • < 50%

    Population Literacy

A Guide of HDSC's Highlighted Projects

Make a Gift to the Haiti Development Studies Center