CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz awards Tech for Social Good funding to 5 student teams

Abstract illustration with blue lights and squares.

The UC Santa Cruz campus of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute partners with the UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation to support student projects as part of the Tech for Social Good program. 

This year’s projects include:

  • Living Solar Panels, which explores the potential of cacti as a carbon-neutral source of renewable energy because of the unique properties of the plants’ photosynthesis process. Team members: Charlie Chesney, graduate student in environmental studies; Erin Langness, undergraduate in ecology and evolutionary biology; Angelina Powers, undergraduate in human biology; Josh Sachs, undergraduate in computer science; and Joe Zheng, undergraduate in molecular cell and developmental biology and biotechnology.
  • Visualizing Wildfire Impact, which is partnering with the UC Santa Cruz Social Emotional Technology Laboratory Lab within the Baskin Engineering Department of Computational Media and UC Berkeley’s Soga Research Group to use virtual reality (VR) tools to provide more accessible information on wildfire traffic impact, risk assessment and smoke spread. Team members: Chris Avila, undergraduate in Earth science; Saranya Elangovan, undergraduate in technology and information science; Samir Ghosh, graduate student in computational media; Kyle Ko, undergraduate in neuroscience; Kit Rao, undergraduate in chemistry and applied physics; Pakhi Sinha, undergraduate in computer science; and Samantha Wang, undergraduate in physics.
  • Gateways Digital Media Classes, which started in 2019, envision a new model of education to combat high barriers to community re-entry for people who are incarcerated. Team members: Katheline Vanegas, undergraduate in sociology with global information and social enterprise studies minor; and Nadia Vazquez, undergraduate in business management economics.
  • Low Cost Sensor Hardware for Microbial Fuel Cell Monitoring and Data Collection, which will test the efficacy of microbial fuel cells, an emerging technology that harvests energy from bacteria that live in soil and can therefore serve as a renewable energy source to agricultural sensing networks, in environments with varying conditions to ultimately advance technology for a lower-cost and low-power agriculture sensing system. Team members: Brian Govers, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering; John Madden, undergraduate in robotics engineering; Sonia Naderi, postdoctoral student in electrical and computer engineering; and Stephen Taylor, undergraduate in robotics engineering.
  • Web-Accessible Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Serious Game for the Remote Treatment of PTSD, which plans to create a remote version of trauma-sensitive yoga that can be accessed with just a web browser and webcam to offer interactive and individualized care for its users. Team members: Maxim Kuznetzov, graduate student in computational media; Likha Pulido, undergraduate in computer engineering; Ramon Rubio, undergraduate in network and digital technology; and Samuel Shields, graduate student in computational media.

The teams will showcase their work at an event in June.