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Board of Advisors

  • Professor Robert Giles, Director: As Chair of UMass Lowell's Physics Department and Director of HDSC, Professor Robert Giles has been traveling to Haiti biannually having established a research facility in the city of Les Cayes enabling UMass Lowell science and engineering teams to move beyond a crisis-management response and investigate chronic resource issues in an impoverished community. Addressing these challenges, Giles mentors multidisciplinary student-based teams investigating a broad array of technologies such as the installation of off-grid solar energy systems and conversion of combustible recycled waste materials and plastics to fuel. The goal is to prepare young professionals for serving impoverished regions internationally while contributing to the knowledge base of inexpensive alternatives for low-level energy requirements.

  • Dean Noureddine Melikechi: is a Professor of Physics and Dean of the Kennedy College of Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Melikechi has worked on multiphoton excitation schemes in atoms and molecules, precise pulsed laser spectroscopy of few-electron systems, non-linear optics, and the development of Fourier-transform limited laser pulses. More recently he has embarked on two major projects: developing sensitive optical techniques for the early detection of cancers (with a focus on epithelial ovarian cancer and melanoma) and analyzing laser-induced breakdown spectra of Martian soils, dust and rocks. Melikechi is a member of two of the largest NASA missions to the planet Mars: Curiosity and Mars 2020 scheduled to be launched in July 2020. Melikechi is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a Senior Member of SPIE.

  • Dean James Canning: has served as the founding dean of the UMass Lowell Honors College since June 2015. Prior to that, he was a faculty member in the computer science department for twenty-nine years. Under his leadership, the Honors College has supported the Haitian Development Studies Center by promoting the honors seminar: Science and Technology in the Impoverished World and by encouraging honors students to engage in Honors Projects that produce inexpensive and useful technologies in the area of clean water, education, and energy. Canning earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech in 1985.

  • Linda Barrington has been the Engineering Service-Learning Coordinator at the University of Massachusetts Lowell since Nov. 2005. A Registered Nurse (RN) with an MBA, Linda ran teams and programs for community-based organizations for 20 years before becoming a Mechanical Engineer (BSME, UMass Lowell) in 2005. In 2006 she completed a Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Infrastructure for Developing Nations and her Master of Energy Engineering (Solar option, 2017) also from UMass Lowell. While an engineering undergrad, she traveled to Peru with Village Empowerment (VE), working in remote villages of the Huarmey Valley with Professor Emeritus, John Duffy. As Engineering Service-Learning Coordinator, she continues to facilitate projects and service trips by graduate and undergraduate students with impoverished communities with VE (primarily the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation) and with the Haiti Development Studies Center.

  • Brian Corr: has been the Executive Director of the Peace Commission – that promotes peace and social justice, and has responsibility for Cambridge’s sister city relationships – since April 2008. Starting in September 2010, he has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) since 2012, and currently serves as the association’s Vice-President. In his community, Brian is a member of the board of directors of the José Mateo Ballet Theatre and also serves on the board of the DiDomenico Foundation, Until 2013, Brian served on the board of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute while doing education and advocacy work to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of violence on individuals, families, and communities. Nationally, Brian served on the national board of directors and the executive committee of the American Friends Service Committee from 2007 to 2010, and as co-chair of the national board of directors of Peace Action from 2003 through 2007. Brian graduated from the University of Michigan in 1986 with a BA in Russian literature and language. A trained mediator, he is a NACOLE Certified Practitioner of Oversight, and he has completed the Negotiation and Leadership course at the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

  • Professor Wil Ngwa, with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Buea in Cameroon, has a developing country background. He later received his Masters and Doctorate at the University of Leipzig Germany as a Physicist with specialties in Biophysics and Material Science. Serving at Harvard in the field of Medical Physics, Ngwa is a strong advocate for initiatives like UMass Lowell’s Haiti Development Studies Center that can foster science and technology in low-income countries like Haiti. He is currently the Director of the Global Health and International Phytomedicines Institute with a major focus on leveraging science and technology with application in global health and economic development. As Abdus Salam, the Nobel Laureate in physics observed, science in developing countries is often treated as a "marginal activity'' and perceived even as an "ornament'.' Although some developing countries are aware of the importance of science and technology as a driver to sustainable development, this awareness does not necessarily make it easy to develop, and popularize science. Factors like inadequate scientific infrastructure, opportunity and mentorship create strong barriers to the path of advancement.

  • Professor Soumitra Satapathi, Ph.D.: Having graduated with a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Physics from UMass Lowell in 2012, Satapathi started working on biomedical optics at Tufts University, Boston. In 2014, he moved back to India to join as an Assistant Professor in the Physics department of India’s premier research intuition Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Satapathi’s research is mainly focused on the development of advanced materials and their use in organic electronics including organic solar cells, LEDs and sensors. For more than 7 years, Satapathi is working on renewable energy sectors emphasizing on development of low cost solar panels for rural applications. He is also interested in technology development for clean and potable water, low cost wearable biomedical devices, nanomaterials based drug delivery systems and on different bio-imaging modalities. Satapathi is a highly adaptable scientist who has published several international journal papers and worked closely with industry.

  • Rachel Paquette is a 2014 University of Massachusetts Lowell graduate of the Honors College with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Within the context of attending HDSC’s Seminar Course ("Science and Technology in the Impoverished World”) during the Spring of 2013, Ms. Paquette chose to address water purification with a Bio-Sand Filtration Technique using only materials indigenous to Haiti and readily available to the local population. With her proposal focused on education, implementation of Paquette’s filter project was easily scalable and sustainable even in the poorest communities. Fall 2013, Paquette provided the template for executing the prototype units in the city of Les Cayes, Haiti. Visiting Haiti during January 2014 and working with four college preparatory Haitian students at UMass Lowell’s Haiti Development Studies Center, Rachel oversaw the fabrication and setup of these filters, established the water testing procedures and oversaw the collection and organization of the water sample data. By mid-summer, Rachel was then working on simple diagrams and documentation detailing filter construction in the local language, “Kreyol”, for distribution to the community. Ms. Paquette had also completed her Honors thesis, Spring 2014, “Education and Implementation of the Biobubbler in Haiti”, documenting the program.

  • Laura Magee graduated from UMass Lowell with a Bachelors in Biological Sciences in 2017. Laura is doing her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program at Massachusetts General Hospitals Institute of Health Professions (MGH IHP). At UMass Lowell, she did her honors thesis with Prof. Giles on accessibility to education in rural Haiti. Having been down to the center in Haiti twice, she has helped teach a geology workshop and a first aid class with supplies to the HDSC staff. She is currently working part-time as an EMT at Cataldo Ambulance Service in Somerville, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, and Revere. She has also been a part of some of the fundraising initiatives for the HDSC.

  • Maureen Kelly graduated from the UMass Lowell Honors College with a bachelor's degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering (2015), and master’s degree in Structural Engineering (2017). Maureen first traveled to Haiti for her senior capstone project and honors thesis which included land survey, civil design, and cultural study. She was a co-founder of the student organization now called “Engineers for Change," where multidisciplinary student teams design technological solutions as a local and international community service. After moving on to full-time work in industry, Maureen served as an adviser on student engineering projects and traveled to Haiti with multiple design teams. Maureen works as a civil engineer for TFMoran, Inc., a leader in low-impact development, and is also a licensed foster parent dedicated to advocacy and trauma-informed care