MIT Technology Review has named Dr. Piya Sorcar to their TR35 list for 2011. The TR35 recognizes the world’s top 35 innovators under the age of 35, spanning energy, medicine, computing, communications, nanotechnology and other emerging fields. Previous winners include Larry Page and Sergey Brin for Google, Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook, and Jonathan Ive for designing the iMac.
Piya has been honored for leading the creation of the TeachAids software and its innovative use of technology in addressing many persistent problems associated with HIV prevention. She was selected as a member of the TR35 class of 2011 by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, who evaluated more than 300 nominations from around the world. She will join other TR35 honorees at the emtech MIT 2011 conference, taking place at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, October 18-19, 2011. All of the TR35 winners for 2011 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review and online at www.technologyreview.com/tr35.
“Technology innovation is key to driving growth and progress in the areas of research, medicine, business and economics,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review. “This year’s group of TR35 recipients is driving the next wave of transformative technology and making an impact on the way we live, work and interact. We look forward to profiling and working with these technology leaders each year, and watching their continued advancement in their respective fields.”
Piya developed TeachAids as part of her graduate work at Stanford University. She discovered through her research that cultural barriers prevented many HIV education materials from reaching those who need it most. Over hundreds of iterations, she developed a new, culturally-sensitive approach in conjunction with a team of the world’s top medical and education experts. The result was high-quality, research-based, interactive software that taught about HIV and AIDS, with unprecedented levels of acceptance and knowledge retention.
As of today, the TeachAids materials are being used in over 30 countries, including regions where no other HIV-related educational materials were previously allowed. For example, in India, traditional HIV education materials have been disallowed in multiple states for being explicit and culturally inappropriate; TeachAids has overcome these obstacles.
All TeachAids software is professionally developed at considerable investment, but then distributed for free under a Creative Commons License. Extensive dissemination of the materials is possible due to the flexible use of low-cost production and distribution technologies. This makes it accessible to people and organizations around the globe working with populations most vulnerable to the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS. Interactive versions are available through the Internet, to use online, download or burn to DVD, while Linear (non-interactive) versions are available for video projection in areas without computers. All versions are compatible with a range of mobile devices.
Dr. Clifford Nass, a Stanford professor and TeachAids advisor and board member, commented, “the TeachAids software has comfort rates that are in Disney territory, which is remarkable for a curriculum on such a sensitive topic. It is providing the best HIV education in the world, and is accessible to those prevented from learning because of cultural taboos or costs.”
Additional information about past and present TR35 winners and judges is available at www.technologyreview.com/tr35. For more information about emtech MIT 2011 please visit www.technologyreview.com/emtech.