Population Health

Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship

Image of student engaged with a virtual reality headsetThe Population Health Initiative, in partnership with the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, CoMotion, the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance and the School of Public Health, offers a Social Entrepreneurship Fellows Program in which students explore how best to deploy social enterprise models for innovations that are developed by University of Washington researchers.

The program supports graduate fellows from different disciplines to work on a range of different projects. Students from a range of disciplines are encouraged to apply, including business, engineering, social work, law, public policy and public health.

Each fellow will have primary responsibility for one of the projects, but fellows will work as a team, with each fellow contributing their disciplinary expertise to all four projects. Fellows will be guided through a structured workplan by program faculty and staff, and will also have access to mentors and subject matter experts.

Summer 2024 projects

The projects for the summer 2024 cohort are being developed by UW researchers to benefit disadvantaged populations and improve population health. All innovations are seeking novel ideas for how they can be financially sustainable while ensuring that the societal impact of their work remains as important as any potential revenue generation.

pHastCam – Neonatal Birth Asphxias

Birth asphyxia affects nearly 30 per 1,000 live births in low-income countries worldwide. Birth asphyxia accounts for almost a quarter of neonatal deaths and remains a significant contributor to long-term disability worldwide. Early identification of infants at highest risk is necessary to improve short- and long-term outcomes. Standardized measurements to objectively assess a newborn’s risk are often unavailable in low resource settings due to lack of human resources and high cost.

This project team is working to solve this issue by developing a portable, affordable device for blood pH measurement and screening in low-income countries. The device, named pHastCam, will utilize a pH sensitive dye and ubiquitous smartphone camera technology to determine blood pH within seconds. This fellow will support the pHastCam team by conducting a deep dive into customer discovery, market strategy and explore how to build a pathway to sustainability in low-income countries.

Washington Passive Samplers – Air Pollution Detectors

Exposure to indoor air pollution causes two to three million premature deaths per year and disproportionately impacts low-income households in lower-income countries that rely on solid fuels for cooking as well as heating and lighting. Monitoring air pollution is necessary for treatment, prevention, intervention, and investigating policy options. Current air pollution detectors are very expensive and logistically challenging for long-term monitoring, especially in the low-income communities experiencing solid-fuel combustion.

This team developed a device that is a low-cost passive method for monitoring long-term average levels of light-absorbing carbon air pollution in polluted indoor environments. Traditional measurements cost thousands of dollars upfront; the new device – the Washington Passive Sampler (WPS) – costs a few dollars per measurement. The fellow will support the WPS team by completing a deep dive into customer discovery and market analysis and explore how to scale this in low-income countries while building a pathway to sustainability.

Juno – Empowering Mothers

Inadequate pain management after delivery leads to unnecessary suffering and delayed patient recoveries, this is often compounded by staffing shortages that frustrate patients and prolong hospital stays. The application Juno stands as a beacon of empathy and support, offering evidence-based advice like a trusted friend to help mothers navigate their recovery journey with confidence and at their leisure.

Juno’s mission is to empower mothers with knowledge about recovery stages, backed by evidence-based medical guidance and interactive, user-friendly support, including breastfeeding advice. It is about enhancing maternal recovery, supporting mental health and caring for the newborn, created by experts passionate about improving post-cesarean care for every mother everywhere. This fellow will join the Juno team to explore customer insights, craft its market strategy and help develop a platform that will be a supportive companion to any mother.

Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Community Mental Health Intervention Integration into Neighborhood House

The COVID-19 pandemic brought again to the forefront the devastating impact of mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, stress, and isolation on individual and community health and well-being. Though effective interventions exist, 1 in 10 U.S. adults do not receive effective care; access is worse for linguistically diverse, people of color living in poverty. Barriers to care include stigma from people and providers; a shortage of trained, culturally and linguistically appropriate workforce; and a fragmented, clinical mental health care system with poor coverage and long waiting lists. Integrating mental health care into community-based social service organizations (CBOs) may improve access to low barrier, culturally relevant mental health care and address upstream social drivers of mental health like food insecurity, poverty, discrimination and unsafe housing.

This project team is collaborating with Neighborhood House and identified a need for culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services for the Somali community. A student fellow will support the team by conducting a deep dive into customer discovery, market strategy, explore adaptation and scale for other communities, and brainstorm a pathway to sustainability.

Student eligibility

We will be offering fellowships to four graduate students. Students at the master’s and doctoral levels and professional students from all UW schools and colleges are eligible to apply. This eligibility includes international students.

Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at a UW campus (Seattle, Tacoma or Bothell). Students who are expecting to graduate in Spring 2023 are not eligible to apply.


Fellows will be compensated up to $10,000 over a 10-week period, working approximately 30 hours per week. These roles are not benefits eligible.


  • Application period opens on February 12, 2024.
  • Applications will be due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific) on March 29, 2024.
  • Applicants will be notified whether they are invited to interview for the fellowship positions the week of April 1, 2024.
  • Interviews will be scheduled for the week of April 1 – 5, 2024.
  • Candidates will be notified by late April as to whether they were selected.
  • Fellowships are for a 10-week period over the summer, starting on June 17, 2024 and ending August 23, 2024.

Application instructions

All applicants must submit the following documents:

  • Recent CV or resume.
  • Unofficial transcript.
  • One- to two-page cover letter outlining why you are interested in the fellowship program and how your skills will enable you to contribute to the success of the project. The application should indicate if there is a specific project that you are particularly interested in.

Please combine the CV/resume, transcript and cover letter into a single .pdf file and upload your application to https://redcap.iths.org/surveys/?s=TKLF8E3Y83TA7EW7.

Select candidates will be required to participate in a 30-minute interview for the fellowship positions.

Review criteria

Applications will initially be reviewed by representatives of the Population Health Initiative, the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and the Evans School. Select candidates will then be invited to interview for the fellowship positions. Candidates will be notified whether they have been selected for interviews according to the published timeline.

Interviews will last for 30-minutes and will be with a panel consisting of the faculty and staff who reviewed the applications.

Applicants will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated the analytical skills necessary to complete the project
  • Demonstrated interest in social entrepreneurship
  • Academic performance to date
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills (interviewing, writing and presentation skills)
  • Demonstrated experience working within in a team environment


Please contact pophlth@uw.edu with questions regarding this fellowship program.