A fellow advisee of mine under Dr Maitland, Louis-Marie is a third year PhD student in the College of IST. He is comes from Cameroon, where he worked both for the United Nations and the University of Dschang (here's a link if you can read French). Though he has not yet chosen an exact dissertation topic, his interests are in the area of deploying ICT for humanitarian/NGO work and he has had five publications in areas related to human rights and humanitarian relief, and coordination. He has attended a few conferences like TPRC and ISCRAM, and his goal conferences include ICT for Development and ICT Africa. Louis-Marie has already spent some time in academia so his long term goal is again working for the United Nations after earning his PhD. He currently lives in State College with his wife and daughter.
In many ways, my own interests are very similar to Louis-Marie's and I would not mind doing much of the same kind of academic work. I'm interested in how ICTs can support humanitarian work and how ICTs can support development and poverty reduction. He is just a little bit older than me and certainly has more interesting experience to draw upon for that kind of work. In comparison, I feel like an idealistic American (who has travelled little outside of the US) with some techno-utopian goals. And at times I am unsure whether it is the local or the global that is more interesting to address; it seems that if we could fix deliberative democracy at the local level (at least in the US), we might do much better as a nation addressing all the very important international issues that seem largely ignored in my country. My long term goal has been an academic career, but his goal of working with the UN certainly has its appeal. I have wondered at times whether academia is the best place to have an effect on global issues like poverty. It is certainly an area where we need to do something better than what we are currently doing. I just hope that ICT and IT can really have the kind of impact that can make a difference in those areas.