The Fung Fellowship for Wellness and Technology Innovations launched this Fall, kicking off with a one-week bootcamp that had students out on the streets of Berkeley uncovering digital health opportunities, pitching their own wellness technology concepts, and networking with community organizations. The Fellows also had the opportunity to meet the program funder Coleman Fung who introduced them to the emerging frontier of machine learning, virtual reality, and the ‘gamification of health’, culminating in an afternoon of hands-on technology demonstrations.
The bootcamp marked the start of an entirely new program at UC Berkeley that brings together 45 undergraduate students from across campus over a 2-year period to address public health challenges facing at risk kids, elderly, and veterans through digital technology innovations. From day one, the students have been engaged in design challenges, leading class discussions, teaching content, and collaborating with one another as well as with community and industry partners.
This Fall, Fung Fellows are busy developing technical fluency in java, machine learning, and artificial intelligence while exploring childhood health and wellness using a public health framework. A recent “babies watching people eat” design challenge encouraged students to think about the social and cultural aspects of food. To explore this, students engaged directly with the community, talking with parents, childcare providers, and children to better understand their experiences. Leveraging the insights gained from these interviews the students developed and pitched innovative product concepts to support healthy food choices during childhood.
Fung Fellows recently shared their thoughts on what this novel fellowship program means to them:
“Being a Fung Fellow makes me believe that I am one of the young innovators who shall use their education and technological resources to solve problems in our societies. It gives me an opportunity to explore my dreams and believe in a future of possibilities.” — James Tayali, Public Health
“For me, the Fung Fellowship means the opportunity to collaborate with creative individuals from diverse backgrounds, while catalyzing new ideas …” — Mahek Modi, Bioengineering
“The Fung Fellowship has taught me to move away from viewing problems as siloed by discipline. So, for me, the fellowship means an integration of thought in order to address problems we face.” — Miguel Flores, Public Health & Integrative Biology
“The fellowship is my creativity incubator. It is the experience I always hoped to have in college.” — Jeremy Hammer, Business Administration
“Being in the Fung Fellowship means an opportunity to change the world.” — Donovan Blount, English