IceVax: Capstone Showcase Abstract

IceVax is a sustainable, energy-efficient refrigeration solution for communities with barriers that are limiting their access to proper refrigeration. Our goal is to bridge the gap in health outcomes experienced by these communities. During the Capstone project, we evaluated different options for assembling the most suitable prototype of IceVax, reached out to stakeholders with experience in different stages of our research, and worked through local regulations to implement IceVax in a school in Pakistan. Ultimately, our summer research led us to rethink our plan to assemble cheap and efficient parts into a functioning refrigerator, and pivot to a kit composed of parts with an accompanying blueprint and wiring schematic. By supplementing the technology with an educational component, we are hoping to offer a sustainable, long term solution that will help these communities over a long period of time. After working with implementation partners in Pakistan, we were able to source parts from Pakistan and implement IceVax in a school that was suffering from heat waves and a lack of cold water and powered fans. Our long term goals are to continue assessing our impact to optimize our implementation and expand to other communities that could benefit from IceVax.

  • Huzaifa Piperdi, Biomolecular Science, 2022
  • Sonny Khan, Business Administration, 2020
  • Essam Alsnayyan, Undergrad Physics and Biomolecular Science (2018), Masters Epidemiology (2020)

Capstone 2019 — The Teams

The Barger Leadership Institute is pleased to announce the 2019 Capstone Program teams! These six teams will engage in eight months of designing and implementing evidence-based, collaborative projects that seek to bring about small (and big) wins for the complex problems of today. After eight months of individualized mentorship, research and project management training, and many opportunities to master effective leadership habits.

Building Practical Skills, Practical Mindsets, and a Practical Electric Motorcycle
Kai Schiefer, Luke Wong
This team hopes to reduce carbon emissions by creating an electric motorcycle prototype and introduce technical and management skills to college and high school students.

Host Your Voice*
Amulya Parmar, Ankit Patel, Varun Madan
This team hopes to support nonprofit organizations in reaching more people through online and digital advertising.

arete (philosopy in prisons project)
Rhea Dhingra, Razeen Karim, Osama Saeed
This team hopes to improve in-prison rehabilitation by engaging current incarcerated members in facilitated discussions of philosophical texts.

Project Healthy Schools Global Initiative
Khadiza Begum, Faatimah Raisa, Joeita MacField
This team hopes to create a community-based movement for public health and prevention and promote health literacy. It also seeks to mobilize communities to address social disparities related to health and wellness, be it the disproportionately low access to healthy foods for students of low socioeconomic backgrounds or the limited access to exercise opportunities for young women.

Sikander Khan, Essam Al-Snayyan, Huzaifa Piperdi
This team hopes to design and distribute car battery-operated cold boxes to transport vaccines at an appropriate temperature over long distances.

Health Promotion at UM (HPUM)
Leo Thompson, Monna Meng, Grace Tremonti
This team hopes to improve the health of all people, especially the under-served, through volunteering in the local community and educating the public, while also building a close-knit community for their members to passionately apply medicine and public health to better the lives of others. Their Capstone goal is to achieve sustainability, facilitate volunteer growth by improving their marketing and recruitment, facilitate operational expansion, and optimize operations.

* The BLI and The London Idea are thrilled to name Host Your Voice as the London Idea Project for the 2019 Capstone Program! Learn more about the London Idea and the BLI partnership here.



capstoneblog1It has been quite an honor to participate in the BLI’s inaugural Senior Capstone Project. Suffice to say, the Capstone has been equal parts more than we could imagine and also what you would expect. It’s been a long and at times arduous process, but also the most meaningful thing either of us has done. Throughout the project, our inspiration has remained consistent: we wanted to create something about video games, a longtime passion of ours, and the people who play them. Yet there is indeed a duality of our inspiration: while we wanted to make a game about video game communities, we were more so motivated to critique this culture in terms of its social issues, particularly gender. The project, which would eventually take the name JUXT, has been a highly creative endeavor, and it forced both of us to evaluate our skills and also our limitations.

The initial phase of our project was research. We studied online video gaming communities to better understand how gamers talk about gender. This was a step out of our comfort zone; we had no previous experience with analyzing raw data. Fortunately, we built a sustainable research plan and recruited a research partner to help along the way. After research, we began the game development phase. We started by building a team, as we alone did not possess the expertise needed to make a fully functioning game – even a small one. After a lengthy hiring process, we found a programmer and an audio producer to help realize our vision. We divided the roles of writer and artist between ourselves and designed the game together. Throughout the fall and winter semesters we worked to complete the game, and as of the end of this winter semester, we have a finished game.

The best advice we can give to our peers in the BLI and future members is to expect challenges. Any creative project has ups and downs: writer’s block, miscommunication, and juggling the Capstone with other priorities are a sample of pitfalls we had to maneuver. However, as in all projects, it is valuable to be wary of challenges rather than to fear them, and always be ready to find a solution. Working as creators rather than consumers was a difficult adjustment, for example. We were often tasked with re-evaluating our project’s scope, timeline, and organization.

We also found it crucial that projects like these understand that starting small does not capstoneblog2inhibit creative growth. Even for a confident team, starting small almost always yields positive results. In hindsight, we may have looked too much at the big picture while ignoring our considerable “small wins.” At each meeting, we would address many facets that need to be completed, while ignoring the value of what we had already accomplished. This could be due to our inexperience in game design, always wanting to improve upon what was laid out. We now have an appreciation for every step, no matter how minute, in any project setting.

Finally, we think our project has shown the value of working to learn, as our team was able to craft an experience, unlike anything we had ever done before. Much of the creative process was spent on first tries, and while that may be another kind of challenge, it offered a freedom from “absolute” statements (i.e., “This should be this way,” “Our game needs to have this,” etc.) In the conceptual stage, such statements heavily informed our thinking. It wasn’t until we got into our specialized zones that we could actually see how the pieces would come together. It forced us to communicate clearly, revisit our work, and critically examine each part to make sure we were reaching our goals. While our work may have changed a lot from initial concept to final product, our vision was never compromised by lack of experience. Not only are we proud to have worked on the BLI Senior Capstone, but it has invigorated our passion for meaningful creative projects and imparted invaluable perspective on what it takes to complete long-term projects.

Zachary and Jonah Beck

Anna – Chiapas, Mexico

Being a leader in research can look different in a lot of ways. For me, being a leader means taking responsibility for my work while also helping others to reach their full ability. While in Mexico this past summer, I was able to put that idea to the test when I began conducting interviews with Central American migrants for my honors thesis in anthropology. I was there with a group of other students in the Undocumented Migration Project field school trying to understand the complexities of migration through an ethnographic lens. It was the first time any of us had conducted semi-formal interviews before so the prospect seemed daunting. I was scared at first because even though I am a good conversationalist in English, improvising questions or probing an interviewee in Spanish was a challenge. My first interview was a little rocky but after a few stumbles and flubs, I was soon conducting lengthy interviews regularly. I am proud of the connections I made with people and the data I was able to collect in those meaningful interviews.

For all of these interviews though, I still saw other students struggling to break over the hurdle of interviewing another person. I spent a lot of time with others informally debriefing about the difficulties of working in the fields. Through discussion, we unpacked a lot of the invisible power dynamics pertaining to race and nationality that prevented them from feeling comfortable asking for interviews. Many people, including myself, felt guilty or exploitive by asking people to share intimate stories about their lives in interviews. I shared tips and my experience approaching migrants about interviews with other students who felt this way. Quickly I be came a proponent of the idea that sharing and recording stories in themselves was a valuable aid for migrants because it provides them a platform to be heard and listened to, which rarely happens while migrating. This idea kept me going and centered my work. By sharing it with others, the idea was solidified and many others took comfort in it as well. Leading these discussions helped me and others formulate our research in a more productive way.

I also plan to make my research relevant in the current discussion on migration policy. This project has the potential to shape our understanding of migration on a large scale and I hope to be a leader in that as well. What became clear to me from studying in Mexico was that there are multiple levels of structural violence acting on migrants to prevent them from crossing safely, seeking justice should crimes occur, and keeping them in a liminal space without state protection. It is this transient space that poses the biggest threat to migrants because it means they cannot access typical safely measures, such as a police force, which a citizen would have. Understanding their position is key to creating policy reform to help them and I plan on this research being used to enhance our collective understanding of migration.