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Alumni Spotlight: Meet Three Recent Graduates of START’s Training Program

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Three Recent Graduates of START’s Training Program

Over the summer, seven research assistants graduated from the Strategic Analysis, Research & Training (START) Center’s training program, four of whom also completed their graduate degrees in June. Ronit Dalmat, Andrew Kwist, and Diana Tordoff each completed a Master of Public Health (MPH) in Epidemiology, and Oluyinka Awobiyi graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Danae Black, PhD student in Epidemiology, Brienna Naughton, PhD student in Global Health Implementation Science, and Leah Isquith-Dicker, PhD candidate in Biocultural Anthropology, completed their research assistantships, and are currently working to complete their dissertations. These seven START graduates will continue to engage with START’s extensive alumni network, established in 2011. START often invites alumni to share about 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. This week you will learn more about these seven outstanding graduates, hear about the highlights of their START experience, and learn about their plans post-START.

Below, learn about three recent graduates of the START Center training program, Danae Black, Oluyinka Awobiyi, and Ronit Dalmat. You’ll meet the remaining four graduates on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Danae Black, MPH

Danae, current PhD student in Epidemiology at the University of Washington (UW), completed her Master of Public Health in Global Health Epidemiology at George Washington University. Before joining the START Center in 2016, Danae was a research analyst for Truven Health Analytics where she provided data analysis and client support by conducting literature reviews, developing analysis plans, and drafting posters, manuscripts, and final deliverables.

In Danae’s two years with START as a research assistant, she worked on eight exciting projects in the areas of family planning, maternal and child health, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene. Given her previous consulting experience, Danae effectively stepped into the project management (PM) role on four of the eight projects she completed. In the Demand Generation Investments project, Danae conducted an extensive literature review of demand-side interventions in family planning across sub-Saharan Africa and created one-page donor summaries for the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. While working on the Healthy Birth, Growth, and Development Knowledge Integration (HBGDki) Rallies project, Danae and her team created a model catalog that summarized statistical approaches utilized during HBGDki working group meetings. For the Policy Tracker project, Danae and her team developed a tableau-based policy tracker prototype for the Global Policy Advocacy team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). This tracker will be used to focus on policy issues experienced by the Nutrition and Financial Services for the Poor BMGF teams in priority countries in the Global South. Additionally, Danae led the Fecal Sludge project team in conducting a landscape analysis of technologies utilized to track vehicles and quantify volumes and solid composition of fecal sludge in low and middle-income countries. These four projects are highlights of the work Danae completed during her tenure with START.

Danae (center) visits a treatment plant for the Fecal Sludge project


Danae’s previous experience and skills were a valuable resource that contributed to her success as a research assistant, project manager, and elected START student representative. Danae reported that during her time with START she was exposed to many health content areas and positively enjoyed her START experience. She felt that the collaboration between diverse project teams and the interaction with BMGF was a very rewarding experience. Danae is continuing her PhD studies and was awarded a travel fellowship to investigate associations with TB screening, preventative treatment, and overall burden among HIV-adolescents in Kenya.


Oluyinka Awobiyi

Oluyinka joined START as a Global Innovation Fellow during the second year of her MBA at the Foster School of Business, where she focused on Marketing and International Business. Her professional background started with Greenwich Trust Limited, a boutique investment bank in Lagos, Nigeria where she worked as a financial analyst. Prior to attending the Foster School, Oluyinka served as a Brand Manager at British American Tobacco in Nigeria and the United Kingdom.

Oluyinka worked on three projects during her one-year engagement with START, providing her respective teams with strategic support through a business lens. During the Contraceptive Co-Administration project, Oluyinka and her team conducted a landscape analysis of existing contraceptives that could be co-administered with other medicines, identified novel opportunities for contraceptive co-administration, and managed the ranking of opportunities within three user groups. For the Access to Essential Medicines Business Cases project, she helped her team develop business cases for PATH that examined three essential medicines in low and middle-income countries and made recommendations for scale-up in specific geographies. During her final project with START, Oluyinka and her team developed a foundational business model for the UW Department of Global Health’s new Implementation Science Center. The team performed stakeholder and landscape analyses of centers working with Ministries of Health worldwide to lead the business model discussion.

Oluyinka’s knowledge of business fundamentals was a valuable resource for her cross-discipline project teams. Utilizing Oluyinka’s business lens strengthened her project teams’ methodologies and deliverables. While working with START, Oluyinka learned about various topics in global health while flexing her strong team building skills. Oluyinka graduated with her MBA degree in June and resumed her position at Amazon LLC as a Senior Financial Analyst.


Ronit Dalmat

Ronit was admitted to the University of Washington’s Master of Public Health in Epidemiology program in the fall of 2016. Prior to joining UW and the START Center, she received her BS in Biology from Yale University and worked as a Science Policy Analyst at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institute of Health.

During Ronit’s two-year research assistantship with the START Center, she worked on several projects ranging in content areas from gut health, family planning, and malaria, to global policy and advocacy. Ronit served as project manager for four START projects, one of which was the Innovative Technologies Solutions (ITS) Gut Receptors project that aimed to evaluate targeted receptors in the gut that influence infant health. Ronit and her team conducted a landscape analysis and provided the client with details of each of the targeted receptors, evidence related to its therapeutic potential, and identified crosscutting research gaps. For the Contraception 2040 project, Ronit and her team identified future trends and assessed user needs and desirability of contraceptive technologies using a multicomponent approach including a literature review of peer reviewed journals and grey literature, market research, and a series of key informant interviews. Ronit’s work on the Malaria Molecular Epidemiology project resulted in a trip to Thailand to present and facilitate sessions at the GenRe-Mekong Malaria Use Case Stakeholder Meeting. The team developed use cases to describe how National Malaria Control Programs could apply molecular epidemiology techniques for genetic sequencing technology in malaria elimination settings. Lastly, she produced a monthly digest for the Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases and Discovery team at BMGF by highlighting ten articles in Gut Health each month, examining the relationship between the microbiota and environmental enteric dysfunction.

Ronit contributed to the success and completion of many START projects while earning her master’s degree. She graduated in the spring of 2018 with a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology, and was promptly accepted to the UW Department of Epidemiology PhD Program, beginning her studies this fall. During her exit interview, Ronit reflected that working with START gave her the unique opportunity to learn about consulting strategies and develop valuable project management skills that she will leverage while working towards her PhD.

Ronit explores Bangkok after the GenRe-Mekong Malaria Use Case Stakeholder Meeting