LinkedInSalif Romano Niang

Salif Romano Niang

Social Entrepreneur + Academic

Food Production
  1. Malô
  1. Singularity University,
  2. Purdue University
  1. Purdue University

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Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer

– Present

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My name is Salif and I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University. My primary research interests (and focus of my dissertation) fall at the intersection of demographic transition theory (specifically, youthful age structures), democratic transition theory, and power transition theory. Furthermore, I have strong interests in international political economy with particular emphasis on explaining the gap between rich and poor nations. Finally, I am an aspiring social entrepreneur that helps to develop social ventures focused on helping small-scale farmers and reducing malnutrition and poverty.


Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer

– Present (4 years)

Malô creates and sells affordable, culturally appropriate rice-based products that enhance the health of mothers, children, and the planet.

Teaching Fellow

Singularity University
(4 months)

Teaching Fellow for the Poverty Team Project

Graduate Instructor/Teaching Assistant

Purdue University
(4 years 11 months)


  1. English

    Native or bilingual proficiency
  2. French

    Full professional proficiency



"Matternet" was conceived and developed as part of the Graduate Studies Program (GSP) of Singularity University (SU) of the year 2011 .

The goal of the summer project is to alleviate poverty and accelerate economic growth for the rising billion through a roadless transportation network.

During July and August, my role included the creation of electronic and printed promotional materials such as flyers, website design and development, graphic design and social media management.

An important part of my role was design research of the concept of "Matternet", while the initial goal was to develop a payload transport system. I brought the notion of using open source designs of retrofitted shipping containers as base stations where the vehicles would land. This concept was brought from my work at Ocean University, where the Ocean Studios are the retrofitted containers that are used as the hubs.

By incorporating ideas from Ocean University, I helped incorporate a much larger vision of a network of hubs that would allow for vehicles to land and also exchange packages and batteries. The hubs would also provide means for renewable energy capture and storage.

With the fundamental goal of an easy-to-deploy network, in the month of August was decided that we would use open source hardware and software for the development of our work. An ArduCopter kit was bought and served as a proof-of-concept, we even had the support and advice of Chris Anderson from DIY Drones.

I was also involved in the development of the team culture and the physical creative space that housed 18 team members of the Poverty Track Team Project.

After August, a philosophical difference in how "Matternet" should be developed gave way to Yasser, Mint, Justine and me to create a separate group, ARIA (Autonomous Roadless Intelligent Array), since we believe this network has to be open source and not proprietary in order to reach a billion people in 10 years.

Team members:


  • International Relations
  • Teaching
  • Public Speaking
  • Research
  • Fundraising
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Editing
  • Statistics
  • Leadership
  • Leadership Development
  • Data Analysis
  • Public Policy
  • Organizational...


Purdue University

Ph.D., International Relations, Comparative Politics, Political Behavior & Institutions

Activities and Societies: American Political Science Association (APSA) Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) International Studies Association (ISA) Purdue Graduate Student Government (PGSG) Political Science Graduate Student Government (PSGSG)

Purdue University

MA, International Relations, Comparative Politics

Activities and Societies: American Political Science Association Political Science Government Asssociation

Purdue University

B.A., Political Science, French, Economics

Activities and Societies: Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity

International Community School of Addis Ababa

High School Diploma

Honors & Awards

Purdue Research Foundation Grant (2010-2011)
Pace Pitch Contest 2011 - Social Innovation Category Winner
Temple Be Your Own Boss Bowl 2011 - Best Minority Business Plan and 2nd Place in Social Innovation Category
2nd Place - Dell Social Innovation Competition 2011
2011 Echoing Green Fellow

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