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Employee Spotlight – Marie Onakomaiya

We have some pretty impressive employees here at Datacubed Health (Datacubed), ꟷfrom marathon runners to musicians; we have some eclectic folks in our Datacubed family. And our new Employee Spotlight series aims to highlight the talented individuals that work here. Each month we’ll be featuring a Datacubed employee, so you can learn more about the brilliant minds behind our company.  For our very first Employee Spotlight, we spoke with our Chief Scientific Officer, Marie Onakomaiya.

Would you please explain your role at Datacubed Health?

As the Chief Scientific Officer at Datacubed Health, I set strategies and lead the science division to shape innovation in digital health through behavioral science. My team of behavioral and data scientists ensure scientific rigor in our platform development, product implementation, and data/analytics delivery. We also provide scientific input on product design, commercial activities, and project management. The Science team is actively engaged in our studies from beginning to end. 

How did you land at Datacubed Health? Can you tell us more about your career journey?

I’m a neuroscientist. I’ve worked in virtual reality and public health research, as well as mental health and FDA policy. I arrived at Datacubed just after the first wave of the pandemic in July of 2020. Digital health was a big draw after my time as a Clinical Epidemiologist at the New York City Health Department, working on the city’s pandemic response. I actually completed my postdoctoral fellowship in a VR lab, studying brain injury and affective disorders. So, using technology to improve human health and understand behavior has been a common thread in my career. Joining Datacubed was an opportunity to work on my passion for better understanding the human mind using technology.

What do you like most about your job at Datacubed? 

Since we work in an emerging sector, every day can be a new adventure. I love my team and the diversity of things we get to work on. I’m constantly finding new ways to apply my experience to our work. For example, I get to use my neuroscience knowledge every time we talk about behavioral science. I like how it makes me go back to the literature I would read during graduate school. I also get to use my experience in survey building from when I was working at the NYC Health Department. There, I’d be working on population health surveys or evaluating behavior change programs designing and validating the questions, and conducting interviews, and I get to use that expertise here too. I’m also able to share the data and analytics skills I’ve acquired throughout my career. Each day you’re sharing different ways to analyze this, report out on that, etc. I do have to say, I’ve already learned a lot and gained new skills from working with my team over the last year. They are all full of knowledge and ideasꟷit’s so great. 

Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on here? 

This is a fun question because I started on the treasure chest store project on my second day at Datacubed. The treasure chest store is near and dear to me because it’s how we’ve built long-term motivation into the platform that perfectly combines user experience design and behavioral economics. When I started, the project was finally taking off, and I just jumped right in however I could. I was able to work directly with the UX designers and the product team, and I helped develop the algorithm behind the reward structure. It helped me dig into Datacubed‘s platform essentially from day one. Working on it has been fun.

After asking work-related questions with Marie, we asked her more personal/fun-related questions. 

What motivates you to wake up and work every day? 

Working with a highly skilled and motivated team on a product that helps people is what motivates me to get up and work every day. We were founded as a mission-driven company with behavioral science at its core, and that means the world to me. I joined Datacubed because our values spoke of philanthropy, discovery, and community. I was very impressed to find a for-profit company that put forward philanthropy as a core value. Even as we grow, fundamentally, what we’re trying to do here is help people, and I love that.  

What is something that most people don’t know about you? 

Any furniture warehouse is my happy placeꟷlet me explain. Coming from a family of engineers, I’ve always loved making things. In middle school, I took both woodworking and metalworking classes and I’ve assembled every piece of furniture in my apartment; it’s one of my favorite pastimes. As you can imagine, I’ve never shied away from building any piece of IKEA furniture. I guess most people don’t know that about me.

Could you please share a quote or motto that you live by that could also inspire others?

So, it’s a long one, but one I’ve tried to live by is the Desiderata of Happiness. Its core concepts are basically be disciplined but gentle with yourself, be on good terms with everyone as much as possible while being yourself, speak your truth and listen to others because everyone has their story, and don’t compare yourself to other people, instead focus on your own journey. It inspires me to do my best work. 

We simply can’t thank Marie enough for her outstanding contributions to our company over the last year and a half, and we’re so lucky to have her as part of our Datacubed Health family. Be on the lookout for more Employee Spotlight features soon to learn more about the incredible people who work here.