Start Center - Strategic Analysis, Research & Training Center
START Center



This past December, research assistant Aldina Mesic, MPH, graduated from the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center’s training program.

Below, learn more about our impressive graduate and the work she completed while engaged with START.


Aldina is a Global Health Implementation Science PhD Candidate in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. Aldina holds an MPH in Monitoring and Evaluation and Maternal and Child Health from Boston University and a BS in Biology from Northeastern University.  Aldina has worked on research studies focused on gun violence in the U.S., intimate partner violence in low-income countries, and HIV among adolescents. Prior to joining START, Aldina worked as a Senior Research Associate at Innovations for Poverty Action in Zambia. During that time, she worked on a study that sought to address barriers to safe delivery services in rural villages. Her research interests include the development and evaluation of interventions focused on shifting gendered social norms, increasing access to reproductive and maternal care, and decreasing the risk of intimate partner violence. In her final year with START, Aldina also received the Fogarty Global Health Fellowship to support her work on informing the scale up of evidence-based road safety initiatives in Ghana.

Aldina worked on eleven projects during her three-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for seven of them. Below are highlights from three of the projects Aldina worked on:

  • Landscape Analysis on Health Systems During Epidemics in Response to COVID-19: START was engaged by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to produce a baseline landscaping to identify existing health systems-related insights relevant to the COVID-19 outbreak, synthesize what is known about how individuals, communities, and systems react, and identify potential opportunities for how BMGF can better prepare health systems to respond.
  • Cost Estimation Tool for Scaling Mosquito Release Programs: The START team developed an R shiny cost-benefit tool that can be used for existing and new mosquito release programs that is generalizable across geographic settings, disease contexts, and mosquito release interventions. The tool includes mosquito release interventions for dengue prevention in Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, and for malaria prevention in Burkina Faso.
  • Vaccine Delivery Research Digest: In 2014 The START Center launched the Vaccine Delivery Research newsletter to support the Vaccine Access and Delivery team at BMGF. This monthly literature review summarizes new publications in peer-reviewed literature that inform the field of vaccine access and delivery in low-resource settings. The START team, comprised of one research assistant and faculty mentor, conduct a comprehensive monthly search to identify new research manuscripts published in academic journals and catalogued via online databases, and reviews the literature to identify articles of relevance to the field of vaccine access and delivery. Approximately 250-300 publications are scanned each month, from which 10 of the most high-impact articles are chosen for focus.  START researchers summarize key content from the studies which may be directly relevant to stakeholders working in the vaccine delivery and access fields. The digest highlights key take-away points and lessons learned from the studies, and includes brief methodological critiques of study design or analysis features which may be important for stakeholders to consider when using the results to inform real-world decision making and application.

Following her appointment with START, Aldina will be finishing up her Fogarty Fellowship and writing her dissertation focused on preventing road traffic injury and death in Ghana.

“When reflecting on my time at START – two words come to mind: 1) community, and 2) challenge. On the first, START provided a unique community of students, faculty, and staff to come together in one physical and virtual space to share our experiences, thoughts, and knowledge with one another. I deeply value the strong relationships that have come from START, those which were developed by spending time in the START room while enjoying many snacks, attending trainings and retreats, and working together closely to achieve common goals on projects. I feel especially grateful to START for providing an introduction and opportunity to work closely with faculty members, some of which I’m certain I will continue working with for years to come.

On the second, START has challenged me in numerous ways which has led to substantial professional growth. The START model focuses on exposure to a variety of disease areas, methods, and teams. Students/faculty are challenged to learn, grow, and become experts in a new topic. Through this exposure and through the project manager role, I was given an opportunity to improve my leadership, communication, and presentation skills. This exposure also allowed me to gain clarity about the topics/methods that I’m most interested in (e.g., spatial analysis). What an amazing opportunity it has been!”

Aldina will continue to engage with START’s extensive alumni network, established in 2011. START often invites alumni to share their experiences after graduating from the training program at all-team meetings and, additionally, taps into the alumni network for content expertise on projects. The alumni network is comprised of highly skilled START graduate professionals employed in global health, business, and consulting across disciplines.