Digital Transformation of Development (DToD) Fellowship

Digital Transformation of Development is a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program that provides interdisciplinary training for UC Berkeley graduate students in design methodologies, algorithms, and problem-solving approaches to substantively analyze, ethically investigate, and develop verifiable, fair, inclusive, and useful observations from datasets and models. From these insights, students are able to devise and deploy digital tools to accelerate growth for low-income populations in the U.S. and globally.

The DToD Program was created with the recognition that while digital transformation — the combination of the increase massive amount of digital information available on every aspect of human existence with analysis techniques such as Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) — has become a staple of multiple sectors of industry and commerce, it has been far less studied and applied to the far-reaching consequences of poverty alleviation, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and, more generally, improving outcomes for under-resourced or low-income populations. The training provided by DToD aims to address that gap ensuring that the analytic techniques and algorithms, privacy, fairness, mechanism design, and implementation of digital technology are relevant to under-served populations.

The core training provided by DToD is centered around three key courses. Trainees will additionally participate in workshops and have access to DToD faculty and staff advising. Travel funding support for DToD-themed research internships and fieldwork is also available. A select number of trainees will also receive support in the form of 1-year fellowships, covering their UCB tuition and fees and $34,000 towards their graduate student stipend.

The DToD program is led by the following people:

Photo of Matt PodolskyMatt Podolsky is the DToD Program Coordinator and a staff researcher at UC Berkeley. In addition to his work with DToD, he also serves as the Managing Director of Research Technologies for the Digital Transformation Institute. Podolsky has extensive experience working on applied research projects in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D), energy access and monitoring, and cyber-physical systems.

Photo of Yael PerezDr. Yael Perez is the Director of Development Engineering at UC Berkeley. Dr. Perez holds a PhD in architecture with a research focus on the impact of digital technologies specifically in developing regions, and previously served as Program Coordinator for the NSF INFEWS: STEM Training for Actionable Research and Global Impact NRT.



Photo of Shankar SastryProfessor Shankar Sastry is the Principal Investigator of DToD and the Thomas M. Siebel Professor in Computer Science. He previously served as Faculty Director of the Blum Center for Emerging Economies for 15 years, and as the Development Impact Lab’s Co-Director and PI of Sustainable Development Solutions. Professor Sastry is the Faculty Director of the FHL Center for Enhanced Reality, a Professor of EECS, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering, and the Co-Director of the Digital Transformation Institute.

The full list of DToD Faculty can be found here.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DGE-2125913. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.