The Peace Corps community is a wondrous thing, and through my fellow RPCVs and supporters of Peace Corps I learn new things every day. Take, for instance, "volunteer computing."
RPCV Jeff Dahlberg recently emailed:
"Both my wife and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in Niger. We stay active in our community volunteering for various things. I also do quite a bit of work on computers and was wondering if I might get some help from returned volunteers in a project that is on the Internet to combat Malaria. Unfortunately, I've experienced this first hand in Niger and have always been interested in innovative ways to try and control this disease."
The project he directed me to is called AFRICA@home. I poked around their website, and it's quite fascinating. AFRICA@home is a website for volunteer computing projects which allow your computer to contribute to African humanitarian causes. The first application being developed for AFRICA@home is called MalariaControl.net. This application models the way malaria spreads in Africa and the potential impact that new anti-malarial drugs may have on the region. You can read more about who AFRICA@home is by clicking here.
"What they are asking for is to use people's computer when they are not using them to help run these simulation models. I've been doing things like this for years and have never had any issues with doing this. It has not effected my computer or processing.
I've actually set up a team called Ex Peace Corps Volunteers (I'm the first and only member so far) to help in this project.
Whatever we can do to rid the world of malaria would be great."
Living in DC area, I've been tempted to join in some of the malaria drug trials taking place at NIH and other local institutions. This sounds like a different (and less needle intensive!) way to be part of a high level research effort that benefits the developing world.