Rachael G. Lewis, 2019 Global Research Fellow

Research Project: Understanding the Influence of Assistive Biotechnology and Disability Education on Childhood Development in Southern India

Research Location: India

Majors: Biology and Global Health

Childhood development is a complex and multi-faceted topic with many connections to biology and global health. Using the support from the Halle Institute, I decided to investigate the intersection between technology, disability, and childhood development in an underserved and vulnerable population. I partnered with a prominent NGO in India and visited four local schools with various approaches to disability education. Initially, I intended to propose a new curriculum framework to incorporate the technology into the daily classroom activities. However, shortly after I arrived on site, I realized the impossibility of such a task. Before I could propose any new ideas, I had to fully immerse myself in the environment and culture of the disability community in India. The aim of my research project evolved from a sole focus on academics to a deep appreciation of the lived experiences of disabled children.  My research enabled me to paint a picture of childhood development in India using my new knowledge of disability, poverty, education, and technology. Upon my return to the USA, I hope to continue my research and compare disability education in the USA with that of India. 

I applied to become a Global Research Fellow to exercise complete autonomy in the creation of my own research project. Combining my academic and personal interests, I pushed myself to discover what global health research actually entails. The experience of studying disability in a marginalized population has led me to apply for graduate programs in global health and international development.  I will continue to research childhood development in my professional career and am thankful for the pivotal role that the Halle Institute has played in my Emory experience.