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HCDE researchers Tricia Aung, Sean Munson developing pilot HCD hub to innovate nutrition solutions in Tanzania

November 4, 2022

A new grant from the University of Washington's Population Health Initiative supports Human Centered Design & Engineering researchers Tricia Aung and Sean Munson in developing a pilot human-centered design hub within the Government of Tanzania that will be equipped to innovate solutions to nutrition issues.

Tricia Aung Tricia Aung, PhD student in Human Centered Design & Engineering

With the launch of Tanzania’s National Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Action Plan, the Government of Tanzania is committed to addressing malnutrition through increased community engagement and multi-sectoral research. HCDE PhD student Tricia Aung and Associate Professor Sean Munson are bringing their expertise in human-centered design and health as they work with the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Center to lay the foundation for a human-centered design hub to address nutrition solutions. Aung and Munson will be working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the US and Tanzania in developing a workshop curriculum to guide trainees on human-centered design methodology and how it can be applied to nutrition-related projects.

Aung and Munson collaborate in the UW ALACRITY Center, where they incorporate human-centered design in the delivery of evidence-based psychosocial interventions.

Sean Munson Sean Munson, Associate Professor in Human Centered Design & Engineering

"Through the ALACRITY Center, we have successfully partnered with local experts to apply human-centered design and implementation to mental health interventions, and I am excited to translate the lessons learned from this work to other contexts as part of this project," said Munson. Strengths they have developed within the ALACRITY Center and will translate to this project include engaging directly with the local leadership in developing the curriculum, prioritizing learning objectives with professional needs, and organizing peer support following the training to forge promising ideas into full concepts for funding. 
On this project, Aung and Munson are working with Germana Henry Leyna from the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, Debora Niyeha from USAID Advancing Nutrition Tanzania, and Rebecca Heidkamp from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Aung began working with Heidkamp and Niyeha in 2016 when she was a research faculty member at Johns Hopkins and working on the National Evaluation Platform project. 

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Communicating HCD in grant proposals

Aung and Munson are building on prior published work building capacity within health and behavioral sciences. View a related guide, HCD in UW ALACRITY research grant proposals: 7 tips for success, published in August 2022.

"HCD global health projects are frequently led by individuals in high-income countries. The current momentum around the need to decolonialize global health highlights the necessity to increase representation and support the leadership of experts in low- and middle-income countries in setting project and research agendas," Aung said. "Thanks to this grant from the Population Health Initiative we will work to lay a foundation for a human-centered design hub within the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre that can leverage HCD methods to create context-appropriate, community-informed solutions to priority nutrition issues."

This project is one of nine awarded the Autumn 2022 Tier 1 Pilot Research Grant from the UW Population Health Initiative. These grants support researchers in laying an interdisciplinary foundation for a future project to generate proof of concept. Read more about the project and other awardees in the press release.