Diane Matar '09 (Lebanon)

Diane Matar

FROM MESPOM TO NASA AMES RESEARCH PARK... AND THE JOURNEY CONTINUES!

Have you ever thought of “SciFi-like” solutions to ocean acidification, deforestation, or poaching? How about satellites that would bring you fast reliable data on the status of forests, or a connectivity that would allow park rangers to instantly report poaching events on a global map?

These are solutions we are seeing more of, yet the vast potential of exponentially growing technologies (Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Nanotech, Biotech, Digital Technologies, Energy Systems etc.) has not yet been fully explored for environmental management. In my 3rd year of PhD at CEU, and 4 years after graduating from MESPOM, I “stopped the clock” and joined Singularity University (Education Company based in NASA Research Park) for a 10-week Graduate Studies Program this summer (2013) as a Teaching Advisor on Environmental Global Grand Challenges. This experience gave me a unique opportunity to “look into the future” of energy, health, education, human and non-human systems, and start to understand the huge opportunities and challenges that fast-growing technologies are bringing to society.

At Singularity University, on a typical working day, I was discussing environmental problems with groups of bright graduate students of various backgrounds, ideating about “crazy” solutions, listening to top-notch speakers, and watching stars on a NASA telescope in the evening! On my free time, I enjoyed designing and 3D printing a tailor-made bracelet, tasting space ice cream, trying the Google self-driving car, or surfing the web through a Google-Glass.

Teaching at Singularity University gave me a brand new perspective about our future, and what we can make of it if we learn faster how to manage the changes and opportunities brought by the technological evolution for multidisciplinary ingenuity. Moreover, the partnerships initiated at Singularity University between global UN organizations and small promising start-ups that focus on positive impact and social change, gave me insights about emerging interesting partnerships that can be better explored for synergistic solutions to global change challenges. When searching for solutions in my area of expertise – conservation management, I will certainly take a deeper look into the latest developments and innovations in technology.

Read more about my experience

Watch “my experience in picture”