Innovation is not happening at the level of the problem.

We believe that the best solutions are developed by those who directly experience social challenges. Thus, we want to inspire confident problem solvers and critical thinkers to address local and global challenges in their communities. IGNITE students use the human centered design process and learn technical Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills to develop an idea from sketch to prototype for a specific social challenge.




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We have successfully implemented Ignite in countries around the world and are ready to scale for wider impact. Our goal  Currently, 100 Ignite instructors have been trained and successfully implemented the program. These peer-instructors are from Duke University, Emory University, University of Michigan, the Universidad de Valle de Guatemala, the American School of Guatemala and the NGO "Asociación Amigos del Lago de Atitlán." Collectively, these trainers have taught more than 2000 students through in-person peer-to-peer learning. Our global community is working towards the UN sustainability goals and is formally  recognized as a good practice.  For more information about our global impact visit our SDG Action Page (linked).


Students learn about human-centered design and basic electrical engineering concepts to create a light source that fits the needs of their community.

Students learn how to measure and visualize water contamination, then they design and build a device that purifies water.

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Students learn about pathogens and the spread and prevention of communicable diseases. Then, they build a health kit for a person or community of their choice.

to learn how to design, teach, and share your own curriculum. 



Dr. Megan Madonna

She is a student at Duke University studying Biology, Chemistry, and Education. She joined the Ignite team in fall 2019 because of her love of education and to bring Ignite to Durham Public Schools. Since, she has also worked with a team to create the virtual platform.

Haejin kang

She is a student at Emory University who thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Ignite through the Water Curriculum program in Guatemala in 2019. She collaborated to create Ignite’s virtual platform and hopes to continue her involvement to expand Ignite’s services to more people. She is currently on the pre-med track and in the Emory Goizueta BBA Program.


Kimberly Breen

As program coordinator for Ignite in NC, she is fulfilling her passion to  prepare the next generation of global citizens to use STEM as a tool for social innovation.   Before assuming this role, she received a B.S. in Chemistry and a M.A.T. in Science and Math Education at UNCW.  

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Dr. Madonna is the assistant director of education of the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies and the program director of Ignite. In this role, she hopes to build Ignite as a tool to increase students' interest in perusing STEM, specifically engineering, as their future careers. Before this role, she received her Ph.D. under the mentorship of Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam in biomedical engineering where she worked on developing imaging technologies to capture breast cancer's behavior.

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Gabriela Asturias

She is currently at Stanford School of Medicine, after graduating from Duke in 2017 with a BS in Neuroscience. Since 2016, she has been collaborating with Dr. Ramanujam to implement Ignite in Guatemala through the Guatemala foundation she co-founded: FUNDEGUA.

Daniela Mariucci

She completed a MSc in Social Psychology from the University of Groningen after graduating from her BSc in Psychology from the same university in 2019. She is the lead coordinator of Ignite’s implementation in Guatemala and the development of Ignite’s virtual platform in Spanish as part of the Guatemalan organization FUNDEGUA.


Jaan Nandwani

She is a biology major, with a chemistry minor and innovation and entrepreneurship certificate, on the pre-med track. She joined Ignite because she is extremely passionate about promoting equity in access to a STEM education for all students and am interested in women's health. 

Julia Carr

She is a junior studying biology and global health at Duke University. She’s passionate about immunology and infectious diseases through a global, equitable lens. She has been with IGNITE for two years, working to establish community partners in Peru and pivot IGNITE towards an airborne viral pathogen-based curriculum once COVID-19 challenged IGNITE operations. This summer she led a 8-person team to develop the IGNITE Health Curriculum, which is currently free to the public through the Thinktific platform

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Alessandra Alvarez Calderon

She is a student at Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Lima, Peru. She is passionate about improving others' education and improving the Peruvian Educational System as well as all areas of science, especially Physics and Chemistry. Joining Ignite in 2020, she is excited to begin working with the community.

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Hope Springate

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Gwendolyn Henry

She is a student at Duke University studying Psychology and Chemistry on a pre-med track. She joined the Ignite team in summer 2020 and worked on the health curriculum on communicable diseases.


Kansi Udochukwu

She is a sophomore at Duke University studying Mechanical Engineering. She joined the Ignite team because she is passionate about community members innovating their own solutions to make it specific to their community.


Alejandro Arzú

He is a rising senior at Emory University double-majoring in Human Health and Biology on the pre-med track. He has been working in Ignite since the summer of 2018, teaching curricula at a variety of schools and has now been part of the virtual platform initiative.


Shana Abraham

She is a student at Duke University studying “Culturally-Specific Innovation to Reduce Health Disparities for Black and Brown Women. She joined the Ignite team in summer 2020 to work on a health curriculum focused on communicable diseases as she was publishing her book on female empowerment and social change, Rise.

Kyla Brezitski

She is a student at Duke University studying Chemistry and Evolutionary Anthropology. Inspired by her passion for STEM education of youth, she joined the Ignite Health Team in the summer of 2020 to help create a new curriculum centered around infectious disease.


Dolores Juarez

She is a rising Junior at Emory University studying French and Biology. She joined the Ignite team in the summer of 2020 and worked on the new health curriculum on communicable diseases

Sarah McLaughlin

She is a rising senior at Emory University studying Psychology on the pre-med track. Inspired by her love for education, she joined the Ignite team in summer 2020 and worked on the health curriculum on communicable diseases.

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Elijah Chou

He is a sophomore at Emory University double majoring in Biology and Computer Science on the pre-med track. He is passionate about helping others in any way possible and joined the Ignite team through Emory’s Health and Development in Guatemala student organization in hopes of empowering others to further develop STEM-oriented thinking.

Alexa McGrath

She is a freshman at Emory University who is majoring in QSS Biology. She first got involved with Ignite through Emory’s Health and Development in Guatemala club. She is very passionate about research and hopes to use her passion to help other students worldwide.

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Daniel Hong

He is a student at Emory University who first became involved with Ignite through the Water Curriculum in Guatemala in 2019. He collaborated on Ignite's virtual platform and is further developing his passion for youth education and social justice. 

Cori Reyes

She is a junior at Emory University majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in English. She is passionate about research and heard the program through the neuroscience department. She loves to participate in organizations that are beneficial to the public.

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Jackie Contento

She is a senior at Duke University pursuing her bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in chemistry. She is passionate about the maternal and fetal health sector of medicine and the power of education. After taking Dr. Ramanujam’s BME230 class in the spring, she was eager to join the lab and engage in the Calla and Ignite projects!

She is a student at Duke University who fell in love with Ignite since she taught the Light and Water Curricula in Guatemala in 2018. She collaborated to create Ignite’s virtual platform.

 She is a junior at Emory University from Fremont, California. She is on the pre-med track, majoring in Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology (NBB) while also attending the Goizueta Business School. She is passionate about volunteering and helping others. She is involved on campus as part of the Emory Pre-Med Association and Bridging Medicine at Emory. She was also previously a Healthy Eagle, Bio 142 SI, Nishana Bollywood Dance Team member, Oxford Research Scholar, and Food Recovery Network president on the Oxford campus. Aside from studying, Arpita spends her time reading, dancing, baking, exercising, painting, and playing music.


She is a junior at Duke University majoring in biomedical engineering with a minor in chemistry.  Passionate about increasing access to STEM education, she enjoys working with students to help increase their interest and to encourage them to pursue their interests in STEM.  She joined Ignite in the Fall of 2020 and is excited to be working on a team to help students in Durham.

Arpita Gaggar

Ashley Myers

Valentina Alvarez

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Alanna Manfredini

A passionate Mechanical Engineering student minoring in ML and AI at Duke University who is especially interested in designing technology with regard to its intersection with the environment and helping people in disadvantaged situations. She is looking forward to expanding her experiences in STEM fields and learning more about creating for people with different views, experiences and backgrounds during Ignite's experimentation this semester.

IGNITE Highlights