By Nadia Krige
The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Computer Science is set to enjoy a major boost with the naming of Dr. Melissa Densmore, senior lecturer and Information and Communications Technologies for Development (ICT4D) staff member, as a recipient of the prestigious $500 000 National Academies Keck Futures Initiative (NAKFI) Challenge grant.
Densmore is one of a group of four researchers from across the globe who will be using these funds to address maternal and child health issues through a digital communication project.
For the past few years, much of Densmore’s work has focused on providing computer-based support for healthcare and development in previously disadvantaged communities around Cape Town. She has been specifically interested in creating mobile health solutions that can serve as a complementary resource to overstretched local clinics.
“At some point, post master’s degree, I decided I wanted to use my computing skills to help people and to address issues of global poverty, malnutrition, health, etc,” she recalls.
“I was working in the start-up environment back in the US [United States] and just didn’t find it really fulfilling to work on projects that were helping people who already have money to make even more money.”
After completing her PhD at the University of Berkeley School of Information in California, and prior to joining UCT in 2014, Densmore was involved with a variety of healthcare projects around the world. These included developing a delay-tolerant tele-consultation system for doctors in Ghana, and infrastructure contributions to enable village health centres to consult with doctors at a local hospital.
“I decided I wanted to use my computing skills to help people and to address issues of global poverty, malnutrition, health.”
Melissa Densmore (Ph.D. 2012) is an I School alumna. At the I School she focused on ICT for healthcare in developing countries.