Global Engagement in D-Lab

D-Lab founder and director, Dr. Kurt Kornbluth, wins the Chancellor's International Engagement Achievement Award for his work in PIET and D-Lab! Find out more here.

(FROM UCD Global Affairs SITE) Left to right: Interim Chancellor Hexter, Elizabeth Mitcham, Kurt Kornbluth, Alan Bennett, Vice Provost and Associate Chancellor Joanna Regulska

Student Engagement

D-Lab students were also recognized for their global engagement efforts. In the 2016-2017 academic year, thirteen D-Lab students traveled to seven international communities to disseminate their project efforts from their D-Lab courses! These students applied for and won funding from various institutions and organizations, including the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies, the International Development Innovation Network, UC Davis Global Affairs, and more! Read more about these students and their work below:



"New Roots Campaign"

Stella Sappington, second year undergraduate student, College of Letters and Science.

D-Lab Involvement: Student in the Winter 2017 Global Poverty Seminar 

Location: Sacramento, CA

Description: The International Rescue Committee (IRC) provides aid and support to refugees worldwide. New Roots is a subprogram of the IRC, focusing on food security, food education and agricultural micro-enterprise. The clients of New Roots struggle to find and purchase appropriate and nourishing food within their means and are challenged in building stronger connections to their community and finding entrepreneurial opportunities. The project took place on a 4.5 acre plot in West Sacramento owned by IRC, which serves as a fertile ground to speak to many problems faced by new immigrant families. Activities included conducting market research to foresee the possibility and profitability of an herb garden on the IRC plot; administering a survey to farmers and potential buyers as well as phone interviews to restaurants and farmers market organizers; understanding market and producer interest; and researching potential crops to create the founding set of herb crops that will be environmentally successful.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!


"Kepler Tech Lab"

Kevin Norring, fourth year undergraduate student, Managerial Economics.

D-Lab Involvement: Student in the Winter 2017 Global Poverty Seminar 

Location: Kigali, Rwanda

Description: Kepler Tech Lab is an innovation lab in Kigali that seeks inclusion of digital tools and equipment to address mismatch of practical hands-on experiences and encourages girls to pursue engineering career. These objectives are rooted in the goal to break import and foreign labor dependency, and encourage locally produced products. To address these issues, the project called for a student to complete a financial assessment and feasibility study in order to identify optimal registration and enrollment fees for high school and college students wishing to participate in Kepler's innovation trainings. The project activities included community interviews, a needs assessment, and market analysis.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!

"Awamu Gasifier Stoves"

Austin Dalmasso, second year undergraduate student, Global Disease Biology.

D-Lab Involvement: Student in the Winter 2017 Global Poverty Seminar 

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Description: Over 90% of the Ugandan population relies on biomass fuels for cooking, and this is mostly with the inefficient 3-stone fire. Improved cook stoves are used in only 10% of over 6 million Ugandan households. This results in massive pressure on the dwindling forest cover, lots of time spent by women and children collecting firewood where women are exposed to risks like accidents and assault. Women spent at least five hours each day while preparing meals for their households along with children where they are exposed to Indoor Air Pollution from the 3-stone fire stoves. Indoor Air Pollution causes respiratory illnesses. Approximately 19,700 people die as a result of IAP in Uganda each year of which 17,000 are children under five years. The project called for the research of the feasibility of developing and implementing more efficient gasifier stoves. Activities included conducting post-consumer surveys, collecting data on use and effectiveness of stoves, and investigation of capital and personnel sources to scale up the project.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!

"Precision Planter"

Stephanie Lew, fourth year undergraduate student, Environmental Science & Management.

D-Lab Involvement: Student in the Winter 2017 Global Poverty Seminar  and in Spring 2017 D-Lab II

Alex Wilder, fourth year undergraduate student, Biological Systems Engineering.

D-Lab Involvement: Student in Spring 2017 D-Lab II

Location: Dkar, Botswana

Description: The current process for plowing and plant propagation is not sustainable and very labor intensive. Additionally, the current plowing device is no longer subsidized in the Dkar community. Thus a prototype precision planter was created to move agricultural practices to align with the Conservation Farming Movement and address these issues. The project addressed challenges such as devising a mechanism to drop off a fixed volume of fertilizer and the further control on this volume based upon the seed to be planted and devising a mechanism to drop a selected quantity and size of seed to be planted. Technical support was required for further development of the prototype. Additionally, the students engaged in discussion and shared ideas with technical community members whom advise around fertilizer and seed dispersal mechanisms.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!

"Essential Oil Distiller"

Ashley Yamada, B.S. in Biological & Agricultural Engineering, 2017

D-Lab Involvement: Student in the Winter 2017 Global Poverty Seminar 

Thomas Wickett, B.S. in Biological & Agricultural Engineering, 2017

Tara Randall, B.S. in Biological & Agricultural Engineering, 2017

D-Lab Involvement: Student capstone group advised by Dr. Kurt Kornbluth

Location: Boa Vista do Acará, Brazil

Description: Boa Vista do Acará is a small agricultural community in Northern Brazil that consistently faces financial instability. This interferes with their access to basic social services such as healthcare and education. Currently, Boa Vista harvests 50 tons of herbs per year, however, rather than distilling essential oil themselves, they sell their herbs as wholesale raw material to the Natura company. If Natura were to ever pull out of their contract, Boa Vista would be in a financial crisis. Therefore the ability to distill essential oils independently would allow Boa Vista Do Acará residents to stabilize their income source. These students partnered with the Association of Organic Farmers of Boa Vista do Acará (APOBV) to build an oil distillation device. Over the course of the school year this team developed a working prototype and extensively researched oil distillation. With this knowledge and experience the team traveled to Brazil to teach the community how to distill and test essential oil and how to build their own distiller.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!


Sean Maxson,  2nd year M.S. International Agricultural Development, Agricultural Resource Economics

D-Lab Involvement: Graduate student researcher for D-Lab

Locations: Bangkok, Thailand and Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Description: Innovative horticultural technologies hold huge potential to contribute towards Horticulture Innovation Lab Regional Centers’ mission of reducing poverty, improving nutrition and health, and improving sustainability and profitability of horticulture activities. It was in this spirit that partnership between the Horticulture Innovation Lab and the UC Davis D-Lab was born. The first phase of the partnership was implemented from 2012- 2016 to provide a framework for D-Lab to collaborate with Regional Centers in Thailand and Honduras. During this time D-Lab curriculum was established at Zamorano University in Honduras and Kasetsart University in Thailand.

In order to guarantee successful continuation of previous efforts and set Regional Center D-Labs on a course for self-sufficiency, UC Davis D-Lab plans to work with Regional Centers to improve course implementation, refine process of appropriate technology selection, and build capacity of host-institution instructors to effectively deliver curriculum.

UC Davis D-Lab will work to improve the spreadsheet cost analysis calculator for cold storage systems. In collaboration with the Regional Center in Thailand, D-Lab will perform an assessment of the CoolBot installed in Siem Reap Cambodia.

"Sharing Knowledge for Rural Development"

Bilkis Bharucha, 2nd year M.S. International Agricultural Development, Agricultural Resource Economics

D-Lab Involvement: RIFA fellow for D-Lab Satellite Project in Republic of Georgia, Summer 2017

Location: Bareti, Republic of Georgia

Description: The Bediani Children’s Center (BCC), an orphanage based in Bediani village, Republic of Georgia, is developing a production and educational farm in Bareti to expand opportunities for BCC members and for the local community.  BCC worked with international partners including D-Lab at the University of California, Davis for expertise on the farm’s technical and educational planning. The farm began preliminary work in 2016, conducting a physical site assessment (soil, climate and water analysis) with help from a German development agency (GIZ), followed by a community needs and assets assessment in summer 2017 with UC Davis RIFA fellow and local Georgian students as a result of its partnership with D-Lab at UC-Davis.

The community assessment was conducted to collect information on the needs and available resources in the villages, identify potential impacts of the farm’s irrigation plan and to identify developmental needs and priorities of the village. The farm will begin full operations in 2018 and plans to provide educational and technical access to local farmers to improve economic opportunities in the village.

Click here to see reports, blog posts, and pictures from this trip!