Whether traveling abroad, testing recipes, or playing soccer, Bryan School alumna Anna MacMonegle thrives on exploration and teamwork. That adventurous spirit serves her well in health policy analysis. She spends her days at RTI International in Research Triangle Park turning hypothetical questions to actionable data. By formulating plans to ask important questions, reviewing data sources, and performing complex analysis, she’s shaping policies that impact lives.
“I really like being able to answer questions beyond a hypothetical level. There is something satisfying in using microeconomic and econometric principles in a way that provides concrete evidence to support or disprove hypotheses. The problem-solving nature of the field is really appealing and fun to work in.”
As a public health economist at RTI, MacMonegle leads research and health policy analysis for state- and national-level health communication campaigns. Her day-to-day work includes preparing reports and manuscripts, assisting with survey implementation, and managing client communications. She frequently contracts with the FDA and CDC to evaluate public health programs and public health campaigns as well as investigate consumer behaviors around tobacco products.
MacMonegle led the cost-effectiveness evaluation of The Real Cost, the FDA’s youth tobacco-education campaign. She says, “Conducting the evaluation required me to put into practice my knowledge of microeconomics, econometrics, and health policy analysis.” She reviewed external sources and examined their validity; gathered data and approaches from sources; and assessed how to credibly evaluate the cost-savings of preventing youth from initiating smoking.
MacMonegle directly applies the coursework from her Master’s in Applied Economics program in her professional work. She knew she wanted to pursue a career in public health policy analysis and knew she would need more than a bachelor’s degree. She grew interested in the “applied” part of the master’s program: “My undergraduate work was more theoretical and lacked the practical application elements that I learned in my master’s work.”
The Bryan School teaches real-world problem-solving skills. MacMonegle says, “I was taught to be adaptable. Often, there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating the research questions I work on. I learned to rely on previous work where possible, to formulate a plan for analyzing a question, and to adapt when a specific approach is no longer viable.”
MacMonegle credits The Bryan School with helping her identify the career path that has served her so well. “The professors’ professional connections helped me form relationships with people outside of the academic world,” she says. “Additionally, I think the course availability and topics covered helped launch my career in the field of health economics.”