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Smith's philosophy: Low-cost, low-tech solutions made locally can help communities in developing countries address crippling problems. The MIT engineer and professor spent time in India as a child and in Botswana as a Peace Corps volunteer, where she saw the devastation of poverty firsthand. Her inventions include a hammermill to convert grain to flour as well as an incubator that requires no electricity. Smith, 47, was awarded the MacArthur "genius" grant in 2004, and she runs the popular and influential D-Lab class at MIT to teach international development and technology in the developing world.