Research and

A major theme of this year’s conference is bridging research and practice. This session will foster discussion around this theme among members of the ICTD community and aim towards takeaways for those in research, industry, and practice on how the community might collectively move forward.

Ice breakers

The session will begin with a speed dating ice breaker to get people thinking about bridging research and practice: is there a gap? If so, why is there a gap? Why is it important to narrow the gap, and how do we narrow it? This part of the session will also allow attendees to hear perspectives on these questions that aren’t their own—practitioners hear from researchers and researchers hear from practitioners. We aim for the ice breakers to be provocative and get attendees to think from new angles about bridging research and practice.


The panel will be a facilitated discussion on the opportunities in ICTD in general, where collaborations between research and practice have happened successfully, where they've failed, and where they could have happened but didn't. The panel will also have audience Q&A to facilitate discussion. Our amazing panelists are listed below.

Kuang Chen studied computer science at the University of Washington before joining the Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley in 2007 to pursue ICTD research. Inspired by his research in Uganda, he founded Captricity, where he developed novel techniques to digitize massive amounts of paper-bound data very cheaply.

Purvi Mehta received a Ph.D. from North Carolina State and then worked for Professor M. S. Swaminathan, father of Asia’s Green Revolution. At the International Livestock Research Institute India, she led mKisan, one of the earliest agricultural ICT projects, and is now Head of Agriculture for South Asia at the Gates Foundation and finds catalytic ways to use digital tech for agricultural development.

Suneetha Kadiyala has a Ph.D. in international food policy and nutrition from Tufts University and is now a senior lecturer at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. She works at the intersection of nutrition, food/agriculture, research, and practice, and is credited for the International Food Policy Research Institute's framework for identifying pathways for nutrition impact.

Hemendra Mathur currently serves as Venture Partner at Bharat Innovation Fund, a public-private-academia venture platform for Indian agriculture, clean technology, healthcare, and digital technology. He is a leading voice in agribusiness and agritech in support of Indian agriculture and farmers, having published on a range of topics, from image processing and big data for agriculture to visionary concepts like Farming as a Service.

Vimal Kumar received his Ph.D. in social work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, focusing on caste violence, and was awarded the Young Professional Fellowship from the Dalit Foundation in 2008. Currently, he is a leadership advisor at Adaptive Change Advisors (ACA) and the founder of Movement for Scavenger Community (MSC), an organization committed to the empowerment of the scavenger community through education.