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



This June, two research assistants graduated from the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center’s training program. Samikshya Pandey,MPA, completed her research assistantship and graduated from her MPA program in June. Will Sheahan, MPH, completed his research assistantship and graduated with his MPH in June.

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



Samikshya received her undergraduate degree in Mathematics-Economics from Furman University, South Carolina. She gained research experience working as primary author and research assistant for two research papers during her undergraduate studies. During her time as an undergraduate, she also spent a semester in Edinburgh, Scotland. She also interned at Louis Berger in their Economics and Institutional Development department for their project “Sakchyam: Access to finance, Nepal”. She is interested in conducting policy analysis and program evaluation on contemporary policy issues in the field of international development, fiscal policies, and women’s empowerment.

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

  • Unintended Consequences of Viral Funding: The START team conducted a case study analysis of the five major viral fundraising campaigns held in recent years to understand the unintended consequences of viral fundraising. Each study investigated the cause behind the campaign virality and its impact on the non-profit recipients, as well as the common factors behind the viral fundraising campaigns and their overall impact on the non-profit sector. The team presented their recommendations of ways to increase philanthropic giving to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Samikshya served as the Project Manager for this project.
  • Knowledge Management for Advocacy Successes and Learnings: The team conducted a short literature review on knowledge management (KM), analyzed seven organizations’ KM practices by interviewing relevant employees and conducting a survey of interviewees at each organization, and provided recommendations that revolved around three themes (Culture, Processes, and Resources) to the clients to improve their KM system.
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment: The goal of this project was to conduct a landscaping review in selected thematic areas on (1) the ways in which digital economic opportunities serve as enablers of women’s work and were they successful in overcoming barriers to women’s work and (2) to understand exemplar models where digital technologies have transformed available opportunities and returns on women’s work. Select thematic areas included economic outcomes, safety nets and benefits, workplace arrangements, agency, networking, and collective action, aspirations and career growth, and the risk of automation for the industry.

Reflecting on her experience with START, Samikshya said, “START has been instrumental in my growth. I have learned so much about client management, time management, and communication. Working in a group with different disciplines has been a great resource. I have been exposed to so many different skills that have prepared me for my career that I would not have had just through my degree program.”



Will received his bachelor’s degree in Biology at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. While in undergrad, he worked as part of a research team developing geospatial-referenced indices of social vulnerability to increase the effectiveness of foreign aid programs. After graduation, he worked in Kathmandu, Nepal as a summer fellow building capacity of local organizations in GIS and data analysis. Before joining START, he worked as a senior research analyst at the Lewin Group, performing analysis of domestic health care policy for clients including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Will worked on ten projects during his two-year engagement at START, acting as the Project Manager for four of them. Below are highlights from three of the projects Will worked on:

  • NTD & Immunization Integration: Literature Review: The goal of this project was to examine how the neglected tropical disease (NTD) platform (primarily through mass drug administration) could be utilized to inform the rollout of COVID vaccinations in sub-Saharan Africa. The workflow primarily consisted of a three-pronged literature review, examining published literature in PubMed, grey literature obtained from BMGF, and a reverse search of citations in the identified grey literature. Will was the Project Manager for this project.
  • LFAs for COVID-19: The START team was engaged by BMGF to provide a landscaping of the current global market and production capacity for the nitrocellulose analytical membrane components of lateral flow assays (LFAs), operating under the assumption that this would be a key bottleneck for LFA manufacturers as test developers are asked to scale up production for COVID-19 rapid antigen tests. The team tested this assumption and created an informative landscaping presentation through key informant interviews with LFA test developers and nitrocellulose membrane producers. Will served as the Project Manager for this project.
  • COVID-19 Health Systems and Delivery Landscape: The team spoke to content experts and conducted a landscape analysis 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 that will better prepare health systems to respond.

Looking back on his experience at START, Will said, “START was one of the main reasons I chose UW. This was even better than I was expecting. I couldn’t have gotten this experience anywhere else.”

Will begins working at PATH as a Research Associate, working with the Malaria & Neglected Tropical Diseases Team and the Malaria Diagnostics Team this summer.


These two START graduates 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.