27 Aug Caribbean Innovators Making A Difference, Part 2
In continuation of our ‘Caribbean Innovators Making a Difference’ series, we spotlight 3 more Caribbean-based innovators doing admirable work around the Caribbean and beyond.
Michel DeGraff, PhD. Haitian Creolist, Professor of Linguistics, MIT
Haitian Creolist Michel DeGraff, PHD, is a tenured professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (M.I.T). DeGraff is noted for his work and advocacy in getting the Haitian Creole language, also called ‘Lang Kreyol,’ recognized as a fully developed language. In support of Degraff’s efforts, in 2012, the National Science Foundation granted him $1 million to introduce online Creole language materials to teach STEM in Haiti. DeGraff believes that one learns best when taught in their own language. Haiti’s dominant language, according to DeGraff, hinders a child’s creativity and ability to excel. DeGraff’s also works in Haiti encouraging children to use online tools like Google Translate to help them read on the web in other languages, not just their own. DeGraff also uses computer games in Kreyol to teach math skills.
What started out as a general concern regarding information about sea turtles in Nevis expanded to Lemuel Pemberton creating the first sea turtle nesting beach monitoring program in 2002. Today, Pemberton is president of Nevis Turtle Group (NTG). The purpose of the group, according to the website, is to develop what is now called the Sea Turtle Conservation Program, giving the opportunity for the present Nevis community to get involved in the preservation sea turtles for future generations to enjoy. Within a year’s time, interested volunteers did get involved by helping to identify nests on beaches and monitoring their progress.
In addition to the volunteer program itself, some other activities happening at NTG supporting the sustainable efforts of the organization are the continuation of the ‘Beach Monitoring’ program, where volunteers work mornings and nights collecting data on sea turtle nests. The information is used to facilitate conversations with international sea turtle biologists. There is also the also ‘Outreach & Education’ where volunteers visit local schools to teach students about sea turtles, and involve them in NTG’s turtle conservation activities. ‘The Adopt-A-Beach’ program gives volunteers their own stretch of beach to monitor once provided proper training and tools. One of NTG’s biggest moves was partnering the Sea Turtle Conservancy and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis to establish what is called the ‘Eastern Caribbean Hawksbill Tracking & Conservation Project.’ The purpose of the project is to track migration patterns of “critically endangered” hawksbill sea turtles nesting along Caribbean and West Indies coasts.
“I’m in the business of ideas, information and inspiration.” These are the first words you’ll read on the “About” page of award-winning veteran Entrepreneur Ingrid Riley. Working and inspiring others globally, Riley works within a few areas surrounding the tech and entrepreneurial spheres, from startup ecosystems to innovation to emerging markets in both the Caribbean and Africa. As founder of Connectimass, a social enterprise helping to build the Caribbean ecosystem since 2007, Riley works to inspire, connect and train young women tech entrepreneurs thorough events and digital media content. In addition to individuals, Riley is in the business of growing brands. Riley’s innovations are on all sides of tech, and they are many. She’s even scored a few firsts. Her blog, SiliconCaribe.com, launched in 2005, and is said to be the Caribbean’s first tech entrepreneurship conference. Riley also established Jamaica’s first meetup, ‘Kingston Beta,’ as well as the Caribbean’s first tech entrepreneurship conference, ‘Caribbean Beta.’ Riley’s already getting started on her 2016. For the Caribbean, she will sit on the board of SXSW 2016 happening in Austin, TX March 11-20. Through her organization, Connectimass, she will start looking for Caribbean startups as early as September 21, 2015.