About Our Goal

About Hygiene Heroes

Our focus is teaching health through songs and games.

Since 2013, a team of Indian and U.S. researchers have been studying how to teach preventative health in underprivileged regions. In prototyping our materials, we learned the most effective way to change behavior is through interactive styles of learning, such as stories, games, and songs. We now work with students and faculty at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo as well as local experts from Asia, Africa, and South America to improve our materials.

We piloted our lessons on handwashing, safe water and sanitation most extensively in Tamil Nadu, India. The children enjoyed our material and more importantly, adopted healthier habits. We have adapted our curriculum to incorporate feedback and suggestions from teachers, principals, and (most importantly) the students.

We have started preliminary development on other health topics, such as preventing respiratory infections and malaria.

Hygiene Heroes staff in India (2018)

·        Geetha Karthick has been field manager since 2016.

·        Chintan Jain is an intervention specialist since 2016.

·        Barka Gowtham is an intervention specialist since 2017.




David Levine
Professor, University of California, Berkeley

Much of Dr. Levine’s research focuses on overcoming barriers to improving health in poor nations. This research has examined both how to increase demand for health-promoting goods such as safer cookstoves and water filters, and how to change health-related behaviors such as handwashing with soap.


William Riggs
Professor, University of San Francisco

Dr. William Riggs is a professor the University of San Francisco and award winning recording artist, and record producer. His research specializes in encouraging sustainable behaviors, particularly around transportation. He is an expert in participatory planning.


Malathy Duraisamy

Professor, IIT Madras

Dr. Durasimy is a professor at IIT Madras.  Her research ranges from labor markets to schooling and human development.


2018 UC Berkeley interns

·        Alexandra Bryant

·        Rohen Sukkawala

·        Ishira Shrivasta

·        Jeseo Park  

·        Lily Ho

·        Margaret Ma

·        Kerin Khan

·        Joshua Tran

·        Yvette Yao

·        Jin Jackson

·        Dan Besliu

·        Aishwarya Arvind

·        Akcan Balkir

·        An Le

·        Lucas Liu


Past volunteers

A team spanning four continents has been developing, testing and revising Hygiene Heroes.  With apologies to those I forgot, here is a list of volunteers.


Tamil Nadu Interns

·        Padmapriya Govindarajan (2014-15)

·        Arya Padman (2014-15)

·        Sriram Kalathoor (2014-16)

·        Ashwini Rajagopalan (2014)

·        Pratim Acharya (2014)

·        Anjana Krishnan (2014)

·        Aiswarya Rangarajan (2014)

·        Nandini Jayam (2015)

·        Divya Chidambaram (2015)

·        Diana Evangeline (2105)

·        Nandini Bjayam (2015)

·        Blessy Sharon (2015)

·        Daniel Nath (2016) 

·        Pranav Sridhar (2016)

·        Gouri Ramkumar (2016)


Teach for India fellows

·        Bhagyashree Ganesh

·        Divya Sabanayagam 

·        Sripriya Mohan

US-based researchers who worked in Tamil Nadu 


·        Gutam Srikanth


·        Kelsey Steffen (Cal Poly)

·        Ricky Williams (Cal Poly)

·        Aparajita Pande 


·        Nimerta Sandhu               

·        Melanie Cernak

·        Julia Seiberling

·        Steve Harrell


·        Wanting Su


Data gurus

·        Yuan Pei

·        Dennis Lee

·        Qiuyi (Jenny) Chen



·        Jackie Zhou                                       Birbal gets in Trouble

·        Katie Holmes                                   My Castle (also author)

·        Bernadette Justine McVerry        Grandma wants you to eat Candy & Tooth brushing early reader

·        Jenn Kotler (RIT)                             Gerry the Germ and The Germ Race board game

·        Charlotte Passot                             Gerry the Germ Returns

·        Adelyn Chan                                     Gerry the Germ goes to School                                

·        Emily Demsetz                                 Cold Germ game

·        Jessica Su                                          Cookstove stories                          

·        Sarah P Weiner                                Early readers for Handwashing and for Avoiding Malaria

·        Nazia Rahman                                  The Monkey Prince

·        Claudia Bibiano                                Seven in One Blow         

·        Isabel (Wai Ting) Chan                   One Rice, 1000 Gold



·        Nicholas (Nick) Scheuerman.       Video puppet show: Little Monkey

·        Cary Woodworth (Legacy Film)   Uncle Silly Washes Hands

·        Tyler Milles (Legacy Film)             Uncle Silly Washes Hands

Videogame programmers

·        Jeffery Spitz & Zachary Spitz        Grandma wants you to eat candy             

·        Richard (Xiaohui) Han                    Game prototype


Co-authors of children’s stories

·        Echo Lu                                              Gerry the Germ Returns

·        Rawan AbuShaban                          The Red Fairy                   

·        Sibusisiwe Mukwakwami              The Robot          


Curriculum designers and testers

·        Fangfei Yin

·        Johnny Sin

·        Anushka Paladugu

·        Toshali Katyal

·        Ibrahim Ramoul Menendez

·        Lucinda Laurence

·        Srushti Vora

·        Michelle Xue Li

·        Tovah Siegel

·        Romina Gupta

·        Gift Opar

·        Ariele Scharff

·        Chris Trinh

·        Nitisha Mehta

·        Vien Yeung        

·        Ishira Shrivatsa

·        Jessica Yan-Fen Su

·        Krista Waugh

·        Justine Po