When it comes to organizing research conferences and getting people interested in improving healthcare worldwide, Kritika Singh is a seasoned veteran.
She’s been doing it since she was a high school student in Virginia. In 2014 she started a nonprofit, Malaria Free World, to promote research and education about the disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes and kills more than one million people each year.
“When I was organizing conferences in high school, there were a lot of people who ended up joining infectious disease research labs because of the events we put on,” she said.
Singh, now a third-year bioengineering student at Northeastern, realized the urgency of inspiring more students to care about global health. So, with the help of her faculty advisors, she organized Northeastern’s Global Health Initiative, a two-day conference that begins Friday.
“I want to get the student body at Northeastern interested in global health so that people interested in these careers can get more involved,” she said.
One thing Singh has learned about conferences over the years is that students absorb more from the event when there is a give and take between the audience and the speaker.
There will be some panels and lecture-style events during the conference, but Singh said she mainly designed this conference to encourage students and speakers to connect with each other.
“I really want students to connect on a personal level with panelists through the games and simulations. It’s going to be really hands-on,” she said.
Students can choose from 10 interactive workshops. One workshop will challenge students to take on the role of a country to help stop the spread of a deadly pandemic. “Students will be assigned a country, and then they’ll have to act as that country in a healthcare crisis,” she said.
At the conference, students can also choose to hear from 30 guests including keynote speakers Peter Hotez, a tropical diseases specialist, and James Cusack, who works to improve surgery procedures worldwide.
Other topics to be covered include HIV prevention, the environment’s effects on human health, and robots’ role in tracking epidemics.
Singh said she is planning to ask the speakers questions that will inspire students to improve the health of people worldwide. “Our generation is uniquely suited with the technology and a huge motivational drive to make changes,” she said.
Singh hopes the conference will attract a wide range of students across disciplines. “No matter what your background is, all majors can apply to global health, so it’s important for everyone to focus on this,” she said.
Singh credited fellow Northeastern students Hugh Shirley, Stephanie Stumbur, Francesca Giorgianni, and Adriell Louis.
“The organization of the conference was truly a coordinated team effort,” Singh said.
You can register for the event online.