GSIF Blog Post #6 Rohan Ekambaram

I believe that overall, the presentation that my group gave to the judges had a lot of strong qualities, but as always there is room for improvement. One of the comments that most of the students and judges had for my group involved the fact that the people who answered questions were the same for every question. They thought that our group should have spread out who answered the questions to show the validity of the groups’s work. This is a valid comment on our group and we will work to improve this but it was also a conscious decision by the group to have these specific people answer the questions. The group members who answered the questions were long time members and had a lot more experience than the newer members both in the lab and in Sierra Leone. We decided it would be better for them to answer the questions because they have a much larger scope of the issues. Personally, I could improve my presentation skills a lot. I did not make as much eye contact with the crowd as I should have. I looked down a little too much and that took away from the message we were presenting. I also stuttered a little bit during my part of the presentation. This could have been solved by a simple flashcard or just putting in more time on practicing the exact words I would be saying. Another problem we had with our presentation was the lack of cultural information about the people of Sierra Leone. This is a much harder issue to tackle because it is such an enormous topic, it would take a lot of time to fully explain. My responses personally were not very strong. I did not answer any questions in the question portion of the presentation. I will personally have to work on this in order to increase my confidence in my knowledge of the information to answer questions. I also could have talked about the quality control portion of the presentation since that is the part of the project I am working on. I think we also could have improved our responses by having more specific numbers memorized. We also could have used the backup slides in our presentation more. There were some questions that would have been explained but we just answered the question instead. Another comment that some of the students had was that I did move around enough and that I stood still. This is just another problem that can be solved with confidence in the information. The problem I saw in our presentation that not many people commented on was the transitions for the slides. We had a clicker but no one really used it, and I think that is a simple problem to fix, but still is a noticeable problem.

The work that we will be performing in Sierra Leone will require IRB approval since we are working with human subjects. Although the work we are doing is noninvasive and has minimal risk for those involved we still need to gain approval for our work since we are trying to create a widely used screening device. Most of our approval has already been laid out since the project my team has been working on has been going on for a long time. The problems that might arise are something that needs to be lookinOne of the tougher things that we will have to deal with when it comes to IRB approval is the identifiable information. One of the harder things will be to track the progress of individuals since the identification process will be much harder without out formal identification. Private information will also pose a problem because there is a lack of privacy in a lot of the health care centers in Sierra Leone. There were stories told by the veterans of the project that some of the health care workers would often talk about a patients symptoms and problems out in open in the middle of the community health centers. Informed consent might also be a problem without a translator since there might be a large language barrier between us and the people who live in the more rural areas where english is spoken much less often.

The logic model of our project is very simple. We develop test strips that are easy to read, accessible to all, and cheap to buy. Afterwards, we have to develop quality control to make sure that each bottle stays viable. Then we have to solve the last mile distribution problem. The final indicator of whether or not our test strip has entered the market and is there to stay is a lowering of maternal death rate. This is a statistic that has to be measured over ten years in order to make sure the study is viable. The short term goal is to raise the number of diagnosis and treatments.

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