Ask the Experts: Mentors Donate Time for DIL Innovators

By Rachel Strohm, DIL Graduate Student Researcher

Interdisciplinary collaboration is essential to foster innovation in international development. DIL promotes interdisciplinary collaboration through its Practitioner-in-Residence program, which brings experienced development practitioners and social innovators to UC Berkeley. Its one-on-one consulting sessions are open to the entire university community, with the goal of bringing diverse and new perspectives, knowledge, and connections to researchers working on development issues.

In its inaugural year, the Practitioner-in-Residence program primarily served undergraduates and PhDs, researchers and post-doctoral scholars. Their backgrounds spanned academic disciplines from history, business, and development practice to electrical engineering, nutritional sciences, and education. Dr. Frankie Myers, a research scientist at the Fletcher Lab in the Bioengineering Department, met with Practitioner-in-Residence Andree Sosler to learn about her experience expanding Potential Energy, a clean cookstove initiative in Sudan, Ethiopia and beyond. Myers and his team are developing a novel smartphone-enabled microscope for remote diagnosis of diseases. The meeting with Sosler explored how to build buy-in for a new technology among major players in the global health space, and resulted in a number of concrete suggestions for creating relationships and seeking funding from influential donors.

Many visiting practitioners see the program as an opportunity to give back to a community that shaped their
careers. Four of the eight practitioners are UC Berkeley alumni; others work with UC Berkeley-affiliated spinouts.
Sosler, whose organization Potential Energy launched in Sudan with support from the Blum Center for Developing Economies, decided to sign up as a practitioner-in-residence because she feels “committed to the center’s mission [and] personally connected to it.”

Sign up for the DIL Newsletter to hear about upcoming Practitioner-in-Residence sessions at: DIL Newsletter