Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Ticora V. Jones ’00

Connecting communities and innovations.
December 22, 2015

Being a scientist is not enough for Ticora Jones: “The technology of what you do is only one part of a much broader conversation,” she says. She is engaged in that conversation as the creator and division chief of the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The network pairs universities working on global development challenges—like food security, climate change, health, and poverty—with organizations and funding to bring solutions to the people who need them. “There’s a lot of ingenuity around the world,” she says. “But the opportunities people have to tap into it are not evenly distributed.”

Ticora V. Jones ’00

Creating opportunity for others is a recurring theme for Jones. She cofounded the Black Women’s Alliance as an undergrad at MIT, where she majored in materials science and engineering. “Often we had been the only black women in an AP physics class, living a life of being the only one for a really long time,” she says. “When you find people who have had similar experiences, that kind of camaraderie is phenomenal.” After deferring grad school for a year to teach middle school, Jones began doctoral studies in polymer science and engineering at UMass Amherst, where she cofounded the Graduate Education Career Development Initiative to help graduate students build skills and find jobs outside the usual academic track. She earned her PhD in 2006.

Jones spent a year as a legislative fellow on Capitol Hill, advising Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin on energy and environmental issues. That taste of life as a scientist in government led her in 2011 to USAID, where she launched HESN the next year. Since then, the network has supported hundreds of projects, including a community-based radio program recorded on a cell phone and broadcast to other phones, created by university students in Uganda; a company to distribute clean birthing kits, started in India by International Development Design Summit.

Jones, who lives in Washington, D.C., enjoys traveling and salsa dancing. In April, she gave an impromptu keynote speech at MIT’s Scaling Development Ventures conference when her boss was called away. “Seeing the beaver, having a photo op with my brass rat in the Infinite, was trippy,” she says of her campus visit. “I was appreciating all the kinds of people that go to MIT. There’s a desire for excellence but also a knack for the unorthodox. Keeping those things alive in your life—that’s important.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept
AV2.0 autonomous vehicles adapt to unknown road conditions concept

The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere

The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.

biomass with Charm mobile unit in background
biomass with Charm mobile unit in background

Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal

The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.

images created by Google Imagen
images created by Google Imagen

The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images

Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.

AGI is just chatter for now concept
AGI is just chatter for now concept

The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it

Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.