Transforming Mobile Phones into Scientific Data Collection Instruments for Personal and Global Health

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Date(s) - Nov 15, 2010
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Center for Community Health


Presented by: 

Nithya Ramanathan, Ph.D.

UCLA Department of Computer Science; Co-Founder, Nexleaf Analytics
In this talk, Dr. Ramanathan will discuss two mobile phone based data collection systems for use in personal and global health monitoring. First she’ll describe AndWellness, a smartphone based application designed by a team at CENS for personalized health monitoring. AndWellness is a mobile to web system that aims to support rapid exploration of ecological momentary assessment studies by behavioral researchers. Through focus groups and surveys completed after a 5-day pilot of the system, they have collected feedback and preferences from a diverse population that includes moms, gay men, and breast cancer survivors. Dr. Ramanathan will discuss the results and how they have adjusted the system priorities and features based on this feedback. Second, Dr. Ramanathan will describe work to develop a mobile phone instrument to monitor indoor air pollution on an individual basis affordably and accurately. Data is collected from the system using a camera on a mobile phone to capture and upload an image of an air filter to a server. The server analyzes the image to calculate the pollution accumulated on the filter. Dr. Ramanathan will discuss results from a recent deployment with Project Surya to evaluate the impact of clean cookstoves on indoor and outdoor pollution in rural households in India.
Nithya Ramanathan is an Assistant Research Faculty in Computer Science at UC Los Angeles, and Co-Founder of Nexleaf Analytics. Developing innovations in wireless sensor networks for the study of water, her doctoral work led to key advances in the understanding of arsenic contamination of groundwater wells in Bangladesh. Nithya’s current research focuses on transforming everyday objects like mobile phones into scientific data collection instruments that can be used to engage citizens in monitoring and improving personal and public health, climate, and the environment. With funding from a highly competitive NIH Challenge Grant, Nithya began development of a smartphone application to improve the cardiovascular health of women. Her work is funded by Google, the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, USAID, and the Switzer Foundation.