Meet the Team
There are currently eight UCL researchers in our Postgraduate Student Engagement team, whose profiles are listed below. For previous team members, see our Researchers in Museums Alumni page.
UCL Department of English
For my dissertation, I’m exploring changes to loricae, a type of religious prayer, between the early and later Middle Ages which show direct liturgical borrowings from the Irish by the Anglo-Saxons and, later, the Icelanders. In conventional prayer, the supplicant invokes the divine and asks for favour or protection in a method recognizing that it’s the divine will being done unto the worshiper. The loricae however are unorthodox and arguably function more like charms; while they still invoke divine beings, instead of begging for protection the poem demands the investment of the supplicant with their power. I am primarily interested in the evidence of the loricae outside medieval Ireland, and secondarily interested in the formal poetic conventions.
Follow her on Twitter: @arendse
Read Arendse’s blog posts.
UCL Institute of Archaeology
I am a final year PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology, focusing on bioarchaeology and biomechanics and using the collections of the British Museum. I am looking at the change in the shape of bones, particularly the tibia, over the course of Nubian prehistory. The tibia has been shown to be particularly receptive to changes in activity beginning at puberty; by comparing these bones to modern studies of athletes and biomechanical models, I hope to understand the shift in food procurement from hunting and gathering to agriculture. My previous research showed that from 2500 BCE to roughly 200 CE, the legs of females went from being fairly robust to petite and gracile, indicating a change in their activity or social role. I am investigating all aspects of bone growth and loss to see what these Nubians were doing, from astronauts on space missions to Swedish slalom skiers to menopause in hunter-gatherer societies – I find there’s hardly any fact that isn’t relevant to my study!
I participate in a number of extracurricular activities. In addition to UCL Museums, I’m a research volunteer at the British Museum’s Department of Ancient Egypt & Sudan and the coordinator of a private collection in North London. I have previously written about the role of beer and brewing in Andean societies and have participated in excavations in Peru, the US, Greece, Israel, and Sudan. I am also a long-distance running enthusiast (spurred by my research) and knitter.
Follow her on Twitter: @stacytg
Read Stacy’s blog posts.
UCL Department of History
I am a final year PhD student in the Department of History studying history of medicine, specializing in epidemics and infectious disease in the early twentieth century. My current research focuses on how physicians, neurologists, and infectious disease specialists between 1917-1930 identified, categorized, and treated the neurological movement disorder Encephalitis Lethargica. Towards the end World War I, physicians in Europe and North America noted a new form of encephalitis that they believed was connected to the 1918-19 Spanish Influenza pandemic and infectious disease. I examine how discourse between medical professionals during this post-war period surrounding the medical mystery Encephalitis Lethargica, shaped the formation of the epidemic as physicians diagnosed patients with very diverse symptoms under the same neurological illness. My previous research over the past three years with Spanish Influenza will assist with the connection between the two epidemics. Although contemporary neurologists have concluded that Encephalitis Lethargica is not an infectious disease, for post-WWI medical professionals the threat of ‘viral insanity’ was real and looming.
Follow me on Twitter: @viralinsanity
Read Sarah’s blog posts.
UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry
I am a final year Comparative Literature PhD student. My research explores the complex and often fraught relationships between science and literature, specifically focusing on Darwinian biological theory and literary narratives, beginning from the mid-to-late 19th Century in the wake of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. My approach to this research employs a variety of literary theoretical methods, but is primarily concerned with the way in which the complex materialist philosophy of Gilles Deleuze can provide us with a reparative reading of Darwin’s writings and can allow us illuminate the way in which literary texts that address Darwinism contain transformative – and sometimes radical – visions of evolutionary biological thought. Works by Thomas Hardy, Émile Zola, Samuel Butler, Aldous Huxley, and Michel Houellebecq make up the literary corpus of my research. Central to my thought is the notion that literary art is valuable not merely as a means by which we can demonstrate certain precepts of certain philosophical edifices, but as a repository of creative possibility that can transform our understanding of theoretical discourses.
I am a founding member of the Society for Comparative Critical Inquiry at UCL and an editor of the society’s postgraduate Journal Tropos. Additionally, I work as a postgraduate representative for the British Comparative Literature Association.
Read Niall’s blog posts.
UCL Institute of Archaeology
I am a second year PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology. My project traces the origins of bread cultures in the Near East and Europe focusing on Neolithic Çatalhöyük (Turkey). The Neolithic East Mound at Çatalhöyük is a UNESCO 9,000 year-old tell site located in central Turkey on the Konya Plain. As part of the Çatalhöyük research project, the overall aims of my PhD are to provide substantial new knowledge about unstudied amorphous plant remains, such as lumps of ‘cooked’ cereal preparations previously identified as bread or porridge, shifts in cooking practices with the advent of ceramics as cooking pots and the use of wild plant species, with special attention to species of wild mustard like Descurainia sophia, as an oily seed and a possible food condiment at Neolithic Çatalhöyük.
Read Lara’s blog posts.
UCL Institute of Child Health and Department of Mechanical Engineering
I am a second year PhD student based in the Institute of Child Health and the department of Mechanical Engineering. I study human neural differentiation and development and try to differentiate human neural stem cells into neurons and other brain cells. In order to study cells in vitro, it is desirable to mimic the environment of the brain. This is why the aim of my project is to produce a 3D model using human neural stem cells and biopolymers by spraying them using a technique called Bio-electro spray in order to obtain scaffolds with cells embedded in them. The cells will then be pushed to differentiation and this way I will try to reproduce a neural tissue. The ultimate goal would be to recreate the neural tube, which is the structure formed in the foetus from where the central nervous system develops.
Read Citlali’s blog posts.
UCL Department of Security & Crime Science
I am a PhD student in the Crime and Security Science Department, a multidisciplinary research group that applies all areas of science to modern crime problems. I use my background in mathematics, combine with crime science, to investigate Dark Net Markets (DNMs) (websites in the Dark Web that facilitate the sale of illegal goods). I am interested in why offenders with a history of activity on DNMs, specifically those buying and selling drugs, might stop, as well as what existing parts of the DNM environment could act as a deterrent to future offenders.
Read Cerys’s blog posts.
Rita Dal Martello
UCL Institute of Archaeology
My research investigates the basis of early agriculture in Yunnan, a region located in Southwest China, and how the shift to agriculture affected the existing cultural practices of the neighbouring areas (modern Laos, Vietnam, India, Myanmar, etc). I employ archaeobotanical analysis of ancient plant remains to reconstruct past subsistence, as well as functional studies of ceramic vessels and stone tools used in food processing and cooking practices. Documenting correlations between changes in pottery vessels and other cooking tools morphology, and the plant assemblages present in Neolithic sites from the area, will provide insights into how food processing and cuisine reflect transforming cultural identities and lifestyles. My research will ultimately provide strong archaeological evidence on the debate of the early language-farming dispersal hypothesis in the context of the Austroasiatic languages dispersal.
Read Rita’s blog posts.
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology
Stem cells have the capability to develop into many different cell types in the body as their cell fate is yet to be determined. It has become apparent that under culture conditions not all stem cells in a population will be in a uniform state and a situation arises in which some cells will be primed for development, whilst others remain in a stem-like state known as ‘Naive pluripotency’. However, what is causing this heterogeneous population is still unclear. My PhD project is looking at the mechanisms that could be regulating this variation in state between stem cells of the same population and whether once a cell has been primed for development is it possible for it to return back to its Naive state.
Read Julia’s blog posts.
UCL Institute of Archaeology
My research investigates decision-making in archives and collections, particularly how people identify and incorporate difficult or controversial materials. My PhD is part of the Heritage Futures research project, which compares how different conservation practices approach the future. How do we shape diverse and responsive collections for the future?
Read Kyle’s blog posts.
UCL Institute of Archaeology
My research is focused on exploring how the Neanderthals of the English Channel region collected flint raw material to make stone tools and what understanding these processes of acquisition can tell us about human behaviour in the Middle Palaeolithic. During my first year of research I have trialled the use of portable x-ray fluorescence to establish the geochemistry of flint artefacts with the aim of linking them back to a geological area, thus estimating a distance travelled from source to site. Continuing work will involve other profiling techniques such as mass-spectrometry and experimental work on flint itself to further test the validity of this provenancing method.
Read Josie’s blog posts.
Institute of Sustainable Heritage
I investigate how visitors to galleries, museums, libraries and other heritage spaces can help scientists gather data. Specifically, I am concerned with data about heritage materials such as paint, wood, plastic, stone, metal and others. Preventative management of material heritage requires constant data collection (e.g. temperature, humidity, dust deposition, pollutant concentration, or colour fading). This is often a time-consuming task that requires expensive equipment. Recently, however, technological advances allow smartphones to transform into highly specialized data collection instruments. As a result, non-scientists can monitor environmental conditions and upload data online. The main aim of my PhD is to establish whether quality of such ‘smartphone data’ is sufficient to aid preventative management.
Read Anna’s blog posts.
My research is on the evolution of gut bacteria in primates. Specifically, we are looking at the factors that affect which gut bacteria a primate will have, including primate species, diet, and social behaviour. We are also looking into how life in captivity affects the gut microbiota by comparing wild and captive animals of the same species.
Read Catie’s blog posts.
Science and Technology Studies
My PhD is a Collaborative Doctoral Award with UCL and the Royal Society, on the topic of ‘Charles Blagden and Banksian Science, 1770-1820’. My project involves the transcription and interpretation of the diary of Charles Blagden, secretary to the Royal Society from 1784 to 1797, under the presidency of Joseph Banks. I am particularly interested in Blagden’s role as a ‘go-between’, and how he brokered scientific information and objects between individuals and communities, both in London and abroad.
Read Hannah’s blog posts.