Olive is an applied anthropologist and UX researcher with a passion for global health and technology. Olive uses her research skills to understand the needs and experiences of vulnerable groups and translates their insights into practical recommendations that improve policies, programs, and products.
Olive earned a PhD in Anthropology and a Masters in Public Health at Northwestern University. Her dissertation research explored how transgender people in Kampala, Uganda, balanced visibility and risk in the context of Uganda’s 2008 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Olive’s MPH thesis examined barriers to HIV prevention and treatment services for transgender Ugandans. Olive has worked with Oxfam’s response to the Ebola crisis and with refugees through the International Rescue Committee as a part of the ACLS Public Fellowship.
Olive recently pivoted to design anthropology in global tech, and has carried out research with companies like Google, Facebook, and Etsy.
When she’s not working, you might find Olive cruising around Seattle on her e-bike, playing in the park with her daughter, reading fiction, playing the piano, or practicing French vocab on Duolingo.
First creative memory
I wrote very long letters to the Tooth Fairy and placed them under my pillow at night for her to read.
Your career thus far in a nutshell
Seeking out new places, talking to people, and trying to make the world better.
Cause that means the most to you
Global LGBTQ+ rights. Ending transphobia.
What have you learned
That I have agency. Rather than focusing on constraints, every situation calls on me to ask, ‘What can I do, where I am and with what I have, to create positive change?’
Design or UX hero
Binyavanga Wainaina (rest in power). His sharply witty essay, “Pure Product,” shines a bright light on how well-meaning projects to provide tech to resource-poor areas go awry, when designers and engineers neglect to ask intended users whether the products speak to users’ needs, aspirations, or identities.