Manali Kulkarni is a senior double majoring in Global Health and Molecular Biology, with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. After graduating, she plans to pursue a masters program in public health. Manali is most interested in studying the social science aspect of health to learn how to promote beneficial health behavior through health education/communication interventions and technologies.
This past year, Manali worked as the Undergraduate Project Advisor for Diabeatit , which is a student-led venture of the Global TIES program at UCSD. Manali’s team of undergrads designed Diabeatit as a health education video game app that engages children in forming healthy habits to help prevent Type 2 diabetes. For help designing the app, the Diabeatit team is partnering with local elementary schools with diverse demographics to garner input and qualitative research from children most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Manali and her teammates hope their application will be implemented in schools and hospital waiting rooms in the future.
This past April 2018, Manali attended The Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference to promote Diabetit. The conference is a gathering of global health practitioners, entrepreneurs, researchers, professors, and students who come together to discuss recent innovative methods, technologies, and findings in the global health field. With two of her teammates, Manali presented Diabeatit during a Social Impact Lab Breakout session, and received valuable feedback on feasible next steps. Most importantly, the group was able to connect with an international NGO working on youth diabetes education, which will certainly be valuable in the future when it is time to scale up!
“The vast number of people at this conference makes it a great chance to really expand your understanding of what global health is, what it looks like to actually work in global health, and perhaps what your niche interest within this field may be.”
Manali highlighted the impact that the Global TIES program has had in her work with Diabeatit. As a part of this program, she received a hands-on learning experience about developing and implementing socio-culturally sustainable solutions, project management, and human-centered design. She believes this program is a valuable experience if you are interested in joining projects that are working to develop solutions to socially urgent issues.
At this stage of the project, Diabeatit’s priority is developing mini-games that simultaneously promote healthy behavior while increasing self-efficacy in the child playing the game. This requires students with health, social science, and education studies expertise, as well as skills in computer programming (front-end and back-end) for app development.
If you are interested in joining this project or another project working to develop solutions to socially urgent issues (environmental, education, health, and more) in and with our local and international partner communities, check out the Global TIES program! The two courses that are part of this program, ENG100D and ENG100L, are open to all majors. I recommend students get involved with the program, as it supplements a global health education very well – you can apply lessons in innovative problem solving and project management to the health issues you learn about in your major courses.