Continuous advances in technological innovation are dramatically expanding possibilities for anthropological research. Digital sensors and mobile apps enable anthropologists to observe social behaviors and psycho-physiological states in the flow of everyday life with increasing fine granularity. By enabling us to model individual variability across time and space, these technologies can assist in linking social and structural environments to their psychological and health-related sequellae to track the evolution of developmental changes over time and document the conditions conducive to wellbeing. GPS and data visualization, together with anthropological methods, provide access into the everyday socio-spatial processes scaffolding cultural learning and accumulation of differential risk and opportunity. In doing so, they bring us closer to replacing spurious associations with robust theories on why certain relationships are observed among specific individuals at a given time and place, as opposed to others. Despite the promise of tech for advancing anthropological research, collaboration between individuals developing technology for use in low-and middle-income countries and anthropologists studying health-related or psychological processes in those very settings is relatively rare. Yet it is precisely from this synergy that the most essential and culturally appropriate technological solutions will emerge.

Therefore, this panel brings together researchers and developers, working in diverse settings, with psychological and medical anthropologists to (i) consider the strategies necessary to develop, implement, and evaluate community-specific tools and tech-driven solutions; (ii) characterize the potential applications of tech towards better understanding cultural, psychosocial, and health interrelations; and (iii) provide opportunity for members to lay the foundation for future projects aimed at characterizing and intervening in the processes hindering psychological wellbeing.

Panelists (click name to see their slides):
Joaquin A. Anguera, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Neurology at the UCSF School of Medicine. His work focuses on characterizing & augmenting aspects of skill acquisition & cognitive control. The approach he has taken in studying these domains has involved a strong interdisciplinary component that bridges aspects of motor learning and psychology in healthy young and older adults, with more recent efforts centering on depressed individuals as well as ethnic minorities. His current work leverages state-of-the-art technological approaches to create i) advanced training tools to remediate cognitive deficiencies, and ii) sophisticated approaches using mobile technology to robustly characterizing individual abilities outside of the laboratory.

Yaw Anokwa, PhD, co-founded the Open Data Kit (ODK) project. ODK replaces paper forms with smartphones and cloud servers. The platform has been used by thousands of organizations like the Gates Foundation, USAID, World Health Organization, and the Jane Goodall Institute to collect billions of data points. Dr. Anokwa is currently the CEO of Nafundi, a technology company with expertise in creating software for challenging environments (e.g., offline villages in rural Kenya, humid rain forests in Brazil, and even the International Space Station). He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington.

Dottie Hunt, MS, is the lead ELMO/NEMO project manager for The Carter Center. Ms. Hunt previously worked at the Georgia Institute of Technology as a project manager and user experience designer. She has a graduate certificate of User Experience and Interaction Design from Rochester Institute of Technology where she researched the intersection of data visualization and user interaction. Ms. Hunt also holds a Master of Business Administration from Wesleyan College.

Kaley Lambden, MPH, is a Field Manager on Dimagi’s global services team. During her career in international public health she has built compostable latrines in rural Panama, led community health seminars in Honduras, collaborated on a nutrition and child development project in rural Guatemala, and provided early learning opportunities for child laborers in Antigua, Guatemala. Kaley has her Master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in International Health and Nutrition and two B.A.’s from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Spanish Literature.

Organized and moderated by Kathy Trang, a biocultural anthropology doctoral student at Emory University and the Electronics Publication editor and Anthropology News co-editor for the SPA.