Faculty Profiles

Antwi Akom, PhD, MA

Dr. Antwi Akom is the Director of the Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Research Lab—a joint research lab between UCSF’s Center for Vulnerable Populations and SFSU. His research lies at the intersection of science, technology, spatial epidemiology, community development, health communications, medical sociology, ethnic studies, and public health. Dr. Akom’s work focuses on researching, developing, and deploying new health information communication technologies that amplify the voices of communities often excluded from digital and physical public spheres and connecting them with resources that improve health literacy, health care delivery, and promote equitable economic development for vulnerable populations. Dr. Akom has an extensive background in building collaborative, community-facing technology projects and new models of urban innovation that help cities become smarter, more equitable, just and sustainable. Prior to joining UCSF/CVP, Dr. Akom co-founded and launched a series of technology projects in the San Francisco Bay area, including, Streetwyze—a mobile, mapping, and SMS platform that enables real time community-generated data to be integrated with predictive analytics so that health care providers, hospitals, CBO’s, and cities are empowered with forward looking knowledge to track health equity indicators, improve service delivery, and predict future trajectories for vulnerable populations. Streetwyze has been recognized by the White House, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Knight News Challenge, as one of the 12 new data tools to help vulnerable populations access opportunity. Dr. Akom’s work is the leading edge of a new era of participatory health and medicine where residents are empowered, informed, and involved in the decisions that impact their daily lives through research, technology, and policies that enable people and places to work together toward the development of individualized care. Key areas of research include: Social determinants of health, health information technologies, health communications, health literacy, health policy, GIS, people sensing, mobile platforms, food security, community engagement, data democratization, data visualization, Community-generated data, Big data, data analytics, digital resiliency, community engaged design, Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPR), neighborhood revitalization, social media, social marketing, social innovation, inter-disciplinary research collaboration, mentoring of junior faculty or trainees, race, space, place, and waste.

Education and Training

Location Degree or Training Specialty
University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. Sociology
Stanford University M.A. Education
University of California, Berkeley B.A. Political Science/Economics

Honors and Awards

  • Presidential Innovation, The White House, The Opportunity Project, 2016
  • Knight Foundation Finalist, Digitally Democracy Data, Knight News Challenge Award, 2015
  • Platform Fellowship for Social Innovation, Streetwyze, Kapor Center, 2015
  • Echoing Green Finalist, Black Male Achievement: STEAM Innovation Ecosystems, Echoing Green Award, 2013
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections Health Award, 2011-2013
  • Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions (RIMI) Award from National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2010-2011

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In the News

Recent Articles (Selected)

Akom, A.A. YPAR 2.0: How Technological Innovation and Digital Organizing Sparked a Food Revolution in East Oakland Qualitative Studies in Education, 2016.

Akom, A.A. “Turning Adversity into Opportunity: Ghettos and Slums as Hotbeds of Green Innovation.” United States Green Building Council Journal, 2015.

Akom, A.A. Shah, A., &. Nakai, A. Kids, Kale, and Concrete: Using Participatory Technology to Transform an Urban American Food Desert. In Noguera, P., Pierce, J. Ahram, R. (Eds.) In Race, Equity, and Education Sixty Years After Brown. Springer. New York. 75-105. 2015.

Akom, A.A.. Shah, A., &. Nakai, A. Visualizing Change: Using Technology and Participatory Research to Engage Youth in Urban Planning and Health Promotion. In Hall, H., Robinson, C. C., & Kohli, A. (Eds.) Uprooting Urban America: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Race, Class and Gentrification. Peter Lang. New York. 95-105. 2014

Akom, A.A., Scott, A., &. Shah, A. Rethinking Resistance Theory through STEM Education: How Working Class Kids Get World Class Careers. In Tuck, E. & Yang, K. Editor (Eds.), Youth Resistance Research and Theories of Change. New York: Routledge. 154-165. 2013

Akom, A.A. “Eco-Apartheid: Linking Environmental Health to Educational Outcomes.” Teachers College Record, 113: 4, 18-39. 2011

Akom, A.A. “Black Emancipatory Action Research: Integrating a Theory of Structural Racialization into Participatory Action Research Methods.” Ethnography and Education, 6: 1: 113-131. 2011

Harnischfeger, A., Hos, R., Akom, A.A. “Youth as Active Agents: Counter-narrating the source of reform.” In Nancy Ares (Ed) Youth-full Productions: Cultural Practices and Constructions of Content and Social Spaces. Peter Lang. 2011

Akom, A.A. “Critical Hip Hop Pedagogy as Liberatory Praxis.” Equity and Excellence in Education, 42:1, 56-66. 2009

Akom, A.A. Ameritocracy: Racializing Social and Cultural Reproduction Theory. Race and Ethnicity in Education. 11:3. 205-230. 2008

Akom, A.A. “Black Metropolis and Mental Life.” Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 39:3, 247-265. 2008

Akom, A.A., Cammarota, J., Ginwright, S. “Youthtopias: Towards a New Paradigm of Critical Youth Studies.” Journal of Youth Media Studies. 12:3 35-42. 2008

Akom, A.A. “Cities as Battlefields: Understanding Environmental Racism, and Community Development in a Low-Income Neighborhood.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education. 20:6. 711-730. 2007

Akom, A.A. “Free Spaces: Excavating Race, Class, and Gender, Among Urban Schools and Communities.” International Journal for Qualitative Studies in Education. 20:6. 611-619. 2007

Akom, A.A. “The Racial Dimensions of Social Capital: Toward a New Understanding of Youth Empowerment and Community Organizing in America’s Urban Core .” In Ginwright, S., Cammarota, J. Noguera. P. (Eds.) Beyond Resistance: Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Practice and Policy for America’s Youth. Routledge. New York. 136-157. 2006

Akom, A.A. “Reexamining Resistance as Oppositional Behavior: The Nation of Islam and the Creation of a Black Achievement Ideology.” Sociology of Education, 76:4, 305-325. 2003

Noguera. P. and Akom A.A. “The Significance of Race in the Racial Achievement Gap. The Nation Magazine, 21:4: 35-47. 2000