Dr Sarah Walters
Associate Professor in Demography
My background is interdisciplinary. I have a BA in history (Cambridge), MSc in Demography and Health (LSHTM) and PhD in historical demography in East Africa (Cambridge). I am interested in population dynamics and in how they intersect with wider socio-economic, environmental and political change.
I have worked at LSHTM since 2008, including a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship in Medical History and Humanities (2011-14), and leading the CRUK-funded Cancer Policy Programme (2014-17).
I am Programme Director for the MSc Demography and Health. I have taught across Demography and Health curriculum as well as more widely across the school. I am Module Organiser for Population, Poverty and Environment - a module in which we explore the interconnections between demographic, economic and environmental change and consider the implications for livelihoods. The course includes topics such as population growth & climate change, the history of population policies, migration & urbanisation, ageing, gender and women's empowerment, climate and reproductive justice, inequalities in health, and households and livelihoods. Previously I was joint Module Organiser of the course Population, Dynamics and Projections, and I continue to contribute teaching to that module. I was previously joint Module Organiser for DEM102 Population Studies and PHM History and Health. I taught for several years on the Cancer Survival Short Course, and on the modules Analysing Survey and Population Data, and Demographic Methods. I serve on the Demography and Health Course Committee and Exam Board.
I work on demographic trends and estimation, with a particular focus on Africa. For my Wellcome Post-doctoral Grant I created the Counting Souls Project, aiming to improve the evidence base for long-term demographic trends in Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. I held a BA/Jisc grant to explore the use of machine learning to extract historical demographic microdata in Africa. I then held a Wellcome Small Grant to establish the African Population History Network which is fostering interdisciplinary exchange for a critical approach to population studies and policy in Africa. In 2021 we published a 'forum' on African population history in the Journal of African History, and held an international conference on African population history in Kenya. I have also collaborated on projects on ageing and the demographic impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa.
I am interested in how ideas about reproduction, health and the family change over time, and how ideational change can be measured and expressed in demography. My work is interdisciplinary – primarily at the interface between demography, anthropology and history. I enjoy finding creative synergies between disciplines and seeing how this enables critical thinking in public health, as well as exploring the challenges of this way of working.
I worked for seven years at the LSHTM Cancer Survival Group on measuring and explaining inequalities in cancer survival both within the UK, and internationally, and later leading the the CRUK Cancer Policy Programme. I have an ongoing interest in global health equity and social inequalities in health, and the relationship between research and policy.