Zach Ward

Programmer/Analyst, PhD Student at Harvard University

Seattle

Class of 2009, Global Health Management (Self-Designed) major


As a programmer/analyist, Ward focuses on simulation modeling of disease for policy research in areas such as maternal mortality in developing countries, childhood obesity, and gastric cancer. He is also currently a doctoral student in health policy at Harvard University, concentrating in decision science. Between work, school, and being father of three, he volunteers at his local parish and enjoys playing music at home.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

At SPU, I studied a mix of computer science, management, and sociology, which gave me a good foundation of technical skills and an introduction to research methods. Minoring in French also helped me attend graduate school in Paris where I completed my master’s in public health.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

The primary advisor for my self-designed major at SPU was Phil Prins, one of my computer science professors. He helped me receive academic credit for a semester spent in Tanzania and Malawi developing health-information systems.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

In real life, it’s important to focus on what matters. You still have to do the other stuff, but choose what to highlight — in a research paper, or a Facebook post — and quietly do the rest.