Julia Bello-Bravo is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University and a co-founder and co-director of Scientific Animations Without Borders (SAWBO). After receiving a law degree from the University Complutense in Madrid (Spain) and a PhD from Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN), Dr. Bello-Bravo worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for African Studies as an Assistant Director while also pursuing her own extramurally funded research projects/program, including SAWBO.
Dr. Bello-Bravo’s research interests lie at the intersection of effective communication and education, specializing in informal education and communication strategies to reach low- or non-literate learners in developing and developed countries. Areas of research include identifying, developing, and deploying scalable strategies for effective educational knowledge transfer and solution uptake to the approximately 800 million low- and non-literate learners globally. Much of her research involves rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa—over a dozen countries to date—investigating the appeal and learning gains delivered by animated educational videos viewed on mobile phones. Deceptively simple in principle, when translated into locally fluent, dialectically accurate languages, these educational interventions have helped to discover and disclose a variety of means, approaches, and techniques that enable marginalized communities in rural areas to access information that can improve their lives, their communities, and their environment in sustainable ways. Future research includes developing further means to scale-up this educational delivery, to increase through-put and access for anyone with a video-enabled cellphone and access to the Internet who wishes to share educational knowledge in their own community, to collaborate further with global and local knowledge-holders in the development of locally feasible solutions to problems affecting countless communities globally, and especially to empower the disempowered, disenfranchised, marginalized, or simply overlooked people at a grassroots level so as to enable everyone’s access to more economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable solutions to problems facing them and the world.
Dr. Bello-Bravo’s work has been supported by grants both from government agencies (USAID, NIH) and private foundations/organizations. She has published in numerous peer-reviewed journals—including Information Technology for Development, International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, Sustainability, Information Technologies & International Development to name a few—and has presented her findings at a wide array of conferences. Outcomes from her outreach and research efforts have been featured in dozens of popular media venues to date, including the Big Ten Network, PBS, and Reuters. For her work, she has received a team “Campus Award for Excellence in Public Engagement” from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, a “Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award,” and an “Innovation Celebration: Social Venture Award.” Her work with SAWBO received “Senate Recognition from the Illinois State of the 97th General Assembly of the State of Illinois”.
Bello-Bravo, J., E. Dannon., M. Tamo and B. Pittendrigh. 2017. An assessment of learning gains from educational animated videos versus traditional extension presentations among farmers in Benin. Information Technology for Development, 1-21 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02681102.2017.1298077
Bello-Bravo, J., A.N. Lutomia., M. Mbhekiseni and B. Pittendrigh. 2017. Pre-and post-impact assessment of malaria prevention education using cellphone animations: A case study in Kakamega county, Kenya. IJEDICT, Vol 13, Issue 1.
Maredia, M., B. Reyes, M. Ba, C. Dabire, B. Pittendrigh and J. Bello-Bravo. 2017. Can cell phone based animated videos induce learning and technology adoption among low-literate farmers? A field experiment in Burkina Faso. Information Technology for Development, Technology for Development. doi:10.1080/02681102.2017.1312245
Bello-Bravo, J., G.W. Olana and B.R. Pittendrigh. 2015. A pilot study using educational animations as a way to improve farmers’ agricultural practices and health around Adama, Ethiopia. Information Technologies & International Development, 11(3), 23-37; http://itidjournal.org/index.php/itid/article/view/1421/522
Bello-Bravo, J. 2015. Rural-urban migration: A path for empowering women through entrepreneurial activities in West Africa. Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, 5(1), 9.
Bello-Bravo, J., P.N. Lovett and B.R. Pittendrigh. 2015. The evolution of shea butter’s “Paradox of paradoxa” and the potential opportunity for information and communication technology (ICT) to improve quality, market access and women’s livelihoods across Rural Africa. Sustainability, 7(5), 5752-5772; doi;10.3390/su7055752
Ihm, J., M. Pena-Y-Lillo, K. Cooper, R. Atouba, M. Shumate, J. Bello-Bravo, M. Ba, C. Dabire-Binso and B. Pittendrigh. 2015. The case for a two-step approach to agricultural campaign design. Journal of Agricultural & Food Information, 16: 203-220.
Saber Miresmailli, J. Bello-Bravo and B. Pittendrigh. 2015. Scientific Animations Without Borders and crowd-sourced emergency relief knowledge in local languages: A case study of the Iranian earthquake. International Journal of Science and Society, 6(2):1-12.
Ihm, J., M. Shumate, J. Bello-Bravo, N. Ba, C. Dabire-Binso and B. Pittendrigh. 2014. Variance of cognitive social structures between farmers and extension agents in Burkina Faso. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 25(5). Digital Object Identifier (DOI) 10.1007/s11266-014-9515-5
Bello-Bravo, J., G.W. Olana, L.G. Enyadne and B.R. Pittendrigh. 2013. Scientific Animations Without Borders and communities of practice: promotion and pilot deployment of educational materials for low-literate learners around Adama (Ethiopia) by Adama Science and Technology University. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, 56(4): 1-11.
Bello-Bravo, J., T. Agunbiade, E. Dannon, M. Tamo and B.R. Pittendrigh. 2013. The prospect of animated videos in agriculture and health: A case study in Benin. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT, 9(3): 9(3): 4-16.