Sandra Ann Ham is an epidemiologist, engineer, and biostatistics consultant serving clients independently as the owner of Sandra Ham Consulting. Ms. Ham holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Kettering University and was inspired by her love of cooking to pursue a Master of Science in nutrition at Cornell University. While studying nutrition, she realized her passion for health sciences and discovered the field of nutritional epidemiology, which sparked an in-depth study of epidemiological research and modeling methods that would shape the rest of her career.
Before studying nutrition, Ms. Ham spent three years as an environmental and safety specialist and plastics manufacturing engineer at Nu-Kote International and served as an adhesives manufacturing engineer with Bostik. From 1997 until 1999, she was with Tredegar Film Products as a technology supervisor and plastics process engineer. After briefly working as a data analyst for TRW based out of Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Ham began her career in epidemiology with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
From 2000 until 2008, Ms. Ham was a health statistician on the epidemiology and surveillance team in the CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity, and obesity. Her work with the CDC helped craft official public health records and policy at a national level and included research and information management for a broad range of projects. Among these was her participation in a working group collaboration with the World Health Organization as a part of the Global Burden of Disease 2002. At the time, statistics and standards for measuring physical activity had not yet been standardized, and Ms. Ham remembers the quality of collaboration and innovation between teams as a career highlight.
While a part of the CDC, Ms. Ham was a member of the Healthy People 2010 working group and the organization’s speakers bureau, in addition to serving as lead statistician on the Shepard Award committee, which recognizes outstanding scientific research. In appreciation of her dedication to her work and wide-ranging contributions to public health, she was presented with two service awards, a 2002 Honor Award from the CDC Agency of Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and a 2008 United States Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Award for outstanding team performance.
After leaving the CDC, Ms. Ham spent a year consulting for Gramercy Research before launching Sandra Ham Consulting in 2010, where she initially focused on health research, evaluation and strategic planning. The same year, she completed a Master of Divinity at the University of Chicago Divinity School, which reflected a shift in her career and her growing interest in addressing social problems, including public health, through the lens of historical culture and faith. From 2011 until 2019, Ms. Ham explored these issues as an independent scholar incorporating the work of many other theologians, philosophers and scientists.
During this time, Ms. Ham also served as a senior statistician at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine’s center for health and social sciences. Her research has been published throughout her career, including chapters in “Interactive World, Interactive God,” 2017, and she has been the editor of H-Scholar since 2020. Reflecting her focus on faith and the humanities, Ms. Ham was active in the National Coalition of Independent Scholars, the American Academy of Religion, the College Theology Society and the American Theological Society Midwest.
Outside her work, Ms. Ham has been a member of the Hyde Park Garden Fair Committee, various committees and ministries at St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church and was the founder of the Elm Park Community Garden. She credits her success to her faith, her intellect, and having found her calling in life, and she looks forward to turning her research abilities toward other global problems in the coming years.