Erin Chapel Ham

Research Project Specialist
Population Science and Policy

    About me

    Primary Responsibilities:

    My primary responsibilities include community-oriented and policy research in rural areas across Central and Southern Illinois, with a particular focus on public health, how environments affect people’s lives (social determinants of health), and exploring how communities, systems, and institutions can be improved with public health policies. 


    After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Development and Leadership from Texas A&M University, Erin went on to work for several non-profits across the US. After 5 years of non-profit work, Erin moved to Austin, TX where she worked in policy research, legislation, and intergovernmental communication. While living in Austin, Erin also volunteered at several local farms and other local non-profits to help relieve some of the pressures of food insecurity in her community.

    Joining the Peace Corps had been a dream of Erin’s since she was 14 years old. The opportune time eventually presented itself and she became a Sustainable Agricultural Specialist in Senegal, West Africa with the Peace Corps. Once Erin returned from service, she was awarded a Peace Corps / AmeriCorps Fellowship at Western Illinois University.

    While working towards a Master of Business Administration, Erin also worked on several projects for Rural Partners of Illinois. The largest project was in honor of World AIDS Day on WIU’s campus. The first year she served as the solo creator and director of events where around 200 people were tested anonymously and for free for HIV/STDs. Erin and her team also conducted multiple public health demonstrations across campus, handed out educational material, and gave away over 1,600 male and female condoms on campus for free. During her second year, she helped lead the project again while also training the new project lead to take over after her graduation.

    During the second year of her program, Erin received an AmeriCorps award to work on projects for the department of Population Science and Policy which focused on projects with the Human and Community Development Division and on health policy research. After Erin completed her year of AmeriCorps service with our team, she was offered a full-time position and graduated from WIU with her MBA, and is now a full-time employee with our team.



    Education & training

    Research Project Specialist, Population Science and Policy
    Graduate Degree
    Master of Business Administration, Post Baccalaureate in Community and Economic Development, Western Illinois University
    Undergraduate Degree
    Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Development, Texas A&M University