Research Assistant, University of Washington Department of Global Health

Priyanka Shrestha standing on a bridge in front of historic buildings

What inspired you to pursue a graduate degree in global health?

I am passionate about using innovative research-based solutions to address health system inequities and improve healthcare services delivery in resource-poor settings. My inspiration to pursue a graduate degree comes from my diverse experiences throughout my career.

I am from Nepal, but I earned an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences from the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh. Academically, I have always been interested in biology & health sciences, but my inclination towards public health grew when I first served as a peer health educator at my university and worked on a global health based undergraduate thesis studying infectious diseases diagnosis using smartphone technology. Since then, my focus shifted in translating scientific solutions from bench to community.

I received a scholarship to study a MSc. degree in Control of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). I also led an independent research study in Nigeria investigating malaria drug uptake among pregnant women in remote communities. This first-hand research experience brought me closer to the reality of global health: the existing inequities, social determinants, and inadequate access to health services.

Besides academia, my experiences working with global health institutions such as the World Health Organization, LSHTM, and the Global Health Group International allowed me to contribute to improving health outcomes and inspired my work on addressing intricate health system barriers. Hence, I want to foster my passion towards global health through acquiring my graduate degree in Implementation Science.

Why did you decide to attend UW for graduate school?

I decided to attend UW because it offers a unique and methodology-driven specialization in Implementation Science. I aim to employ innovative implementation strategies to strengthen healthcare systems in Nepal and other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). I believe another reason to choose UW was its pioneering research and dedication towards global health, where students like me, who come from a developing country, can nurture one’s skills and develop leadership potentials through engagement in robust research and training with adept faculty and diverse group of professionals.  

What are your research interests?

My research interests include community-based participatory research, health system strengthening, health innovations and implementation science.

What are you enjoying most about your graduate program?

Being a part of a diverse cohort is what I am currently enjoying about the program. It is a privilege to study and work with scholars coming from different backgrounds. I believe these varied public health experiences not only help us exchange our expertise but also introduces us to new cultures and evokes a sense of community. Hence, I am looking forward to exploring more of this community during my program.

How did your award influence your decision to attend UW?

I would not have been able to pursue my PhD at UW if there was no funding/scholarship offered.