Toptal, an elite network of the world’s top talent in business, design, and technology that enables companies to scale their teams, on demand, announced today the recipients of the Toptal 2018-2019 Scholarship for Women for the Americas and Europe regions. The winners are Anisah Alyahya, PhD (Europe), who is driving innovation in healthcare data for research, and Karen L. Pesse (Americas), who is developing a technology tool for direct refugee donations.
Toptal Scholarships for Women aim to empower the next generation of female CEOs, founders, and leaders to achieve their plans for changing the world by providing financial support and mentorship to five women from across the globe. Toptal encourages women from all backgrounds to apply, and the program selects recipients based on their capacity to create a widespread positive change in their communities through a critical initiative.
Anisah Alyahya, PhD: Data Network Mapping for Health Research
Europe scholarship recipient Anisah Alyahya, PhD of France has developed a solution for network mapping healthcare data for research. She trained as a medical doctor at Imperial College London, and her experience in infectious diseases in Kenya inspired her to pursue a PhD in microbiology at Yale. Anisah then joined the biotech world to work on vaccine discovery and strategy and on tuberculosis — eventually filing a patent for her work. Her search to go beyond the scientific method finally led her to Stanford where, as a visiting scholar, she learned the basics of design research and methodology as new tools for framing and solving complex health challenges.
Along the way, Anisah uncovered a critical challenge affecting health researchers everywhere: the difficulty of accessing existing research and data on healthcare and medical topics. Without the ability to freely share and search the available research, scientists and medical professionals remain limited and siloed, which hinders progress both on a micro and macro level. As a result, Anisah launched a data science startup to develop a new tool and methodology for network analysis of data, with the aim of uncovering insightful stories for informing healthcare innovation strategy.
Under Anisah’s leadership, this approach can enable healthcare information to flow freely and sets the foundation for research to take a giant leap forward. Network mapping of research can be applied to any field beyond medical, allowing for limitless application of the process to other fields. Toptal is proud to be able to support Anisah as she strives to create a solution that can help researchers around the world. More information is available on Anisah’s blog.
Karen L. Pesse: Technology Tool for Refugee Donations
With the global refugee crisis continuing to escalate, Americas scholarship recipient Karen L. Pesse of Brazil has a plan to revolutionize and optimize the systems through which refugees receive donations and aid. Currently, refugees depend on donations of goods and money, but donors typically do not have a clear idea of what is needed, when, and where. The result is that necessary items might not reach the people who need them, while large amounts of donations go unused.
Building off of her undergraduate degree in Nanotechnology and graduate degree in Engineering, Karen plans to create a tool for 1-1 donations. This tool will use blockchain or another decentralized system in order to connect refugees with donors on an individual level. Refugees then would be verified by participating nonprofit organizations, after which they can make requests for specific items related to first aid (medicine, orthopedic braces) or digital health (such as a diabetes measurement device) that are needed. Donors can then provide the items directly. Karen’s goal is to remove the middleman – charities distributing goods – and make the aid process faster and more efficient. An optimized system will be less wasteful and more nimble, and most importantly, it will be scalable to address a growing need.
Karen and her idea have been accepted to the MIT-Harvard Healthcare Innovation Bootcamp, June 15-21, 2019. Toptal is awarding Karen $10,000 to cover any costs related to the bootcamp and support her creation of this tool. Once the bootcamp is complete, Toptal will provide her with a year of mentoring with a Toptal expert, who can guide her to not only complete and launch this tool, but more effectively manage projects and business strategy. More information about Karen’s background and plan is available on her blog.
“These two remarkable women have launched innovative ideas using technology to solve critical societal problems,” said Taso Du Val, CEO of Toptal. “We launched our scholarship program several years ago because we have been inspired by impressive, highly-skilled talent that we have in our freelance network. Toptal wanted to go a step beyond and provide opportunities for future leaders who are doing amazing work and are committed to making a positive impact. In both Anisah’s and Karen’s cases, they are solving problems that have impeded progress in the inherently disorganized fields of research and refugee aid.”
Toptal chooses its Scholarship for Women recipients via a panel of judges in each region, including one guest judge. The European guest judge was Sally Eaves, a chief technology officer and recognized thought leader on blockchain and emerging technologies. The Americas guest judge was Jo Ling Kent, an NBC News national correspondent covering business, technology, and the economy. The judges reviewed hundreds of applicants for each scholarship to determine the recipient.