Team Alumni

Past Team Members

Since the project began in February 2012, we have seen a number of fantastic team members come and go, usually to move on to bigger and better things! This page is dedicated to past team members and the contribution they have made to shaping the Researchers in Museums project.


Dr Stacy Hackner

UCL Institute of Archaeology

I graduated with a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology in 2017, focusing on bioarchaeology and biomechanics and using the collections of the British Museum. I examined differences in tibial bone shape between Sudanese farming and nomadic groups. I am currently teaching in the UCL Arts & Sciences department.

Follow her on Twitter: @stacytg

Read Stacy’s blog posts.


Citlali Helenes GonzálezCitlali Helenes González

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.


Rita Dal Martello

UCL Institute of Archaeology

RitaMy 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.


Anna Rudnicka  

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.


Sarah SavageSarah Savage

UCL Department of History

Sarah graduated with a PhD from the Department of History studying history of medicine, specializing in epidemics and infectious disease in the early twentieth century. Her research focused 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. She examined 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. Her previous research with Spanish Influenza assisted 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.


Niall Sreenan

 Niall Sreenan

UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry

Niall graduated with a PhD in Comparative Literature. His research explored  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. His approach to this research employed a variety of literary theoretical methods, but was 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 made up the literary corpus of his research. Central to his thought was 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.

He was a founding member of the Society for Comparative Critical Inquiry at UCL and an editor of the society’s postgraduate Journal Tropos. Additionally, he worked as a postgraduate representative for the British Comparative Literature Association.

Twitter: @LatentLaziness

Read Niall’s blog posts.


Lara González

Lara González

UCL Institute of Archaeology

Lara was PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology. Her project traced the origins of bread cultures in the Near East and Europe and focused 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 her PhD were 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.


Kevin worked as Student Engagement Coordinator between 2014 and 2016.  He completed his PhD and left the team in September 2016.  He now works as a Research Officer for Equality Challenge Unit, an organisation that works to further and support equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education across the UK and in colleges in Scotland.

Kevin Guyan

UCL Department of History

My research explored the relationship between masculinities, planning knowledge and domestic space in Britain in the middle decades of the twentieth century.  As the borders of expert knowledge expanded, planners conceptualised the home in ways that made it easier for men to perform family-orientated domestic identities.  Planners disseminated these ideal domestic identities at major exhibitions such as Britain Can Make It (1946) and the Festival of Britain (1951).  However, among the lucky few who moved into new houses, many families found that everyday domestic life failed to match planners’ expectations.  My research therefore examined gender’s role in planning knowledge and postwar reconstruction, as well as the dialogue and dissonance between planners (architects), observers (social investigators) and inhabitants over how to use and experience the home.

Follow me on Twitter @kevin_guyan

Read Kevin’s blog posts.


Misha is completing her PhD at UCL in Spring 2017, before taking up a research fellowship at the Huntington Library in California. There she will continue work on the history of colonisation in North America, exploring the political and cultural interests of investors in the Virginia Company and how they influenced settlement in Jamestown.

Misha EwenMisha Ewen

UCL Department of History

I am a third year PhD student in the Department of History. My research focuses on the ways that the English colonisation of Virginia in 1607 influenced political life and culture in England, and prompted individuals to think about their society – often termed the ‘commonwealth’ – in different ways. From the transportation of orphans to the colony, disputes about the tobacco trade, pamphlets, plays and church collections to build schools in the colony, I’m interested in exploring how individuals from all areas of society were brought into dialogue with the colonial project.

Twitter: @mishaewen

Read Misha’s blog posts.


Tzu-i Liao

Tzu-i Liao

UCL Department of Greek and Latin

I am a final year PhD student in the Department of Greek and Latin at UCL, interested in how different ways of speaking result in different ways of meaning and thus reflect different purposes of writing/speaking. My research focuses on ancient Greek and Roman texts, and in particular, classical Greek oratory and historiography. My current project investigates how the writing/speaking conventions of classical Athenian political speeches are realized linguistically – in other words, how the genre is produced and defined by the uses of structural and grammatical constructions.

Read Tzu-i’s blog posts.

Lisa Plotkin*************************************************************

Lisa finished her PhD and left the team in 2015 to pursue a research position at the National Federation of Womens’ Institutes. She was Engagement Coordinator for two years, and was integral to the Foreign Bodies and Stress projects.

Lisa Plotkin

UCL Department of History

I am a fourth year PhD student in the Department of History, specializing in the nineteenth century social history of women and medicine throughout the British Empire. My current research focuses more specifically on the experiences of women in various curative sites in Britain and India from 1860 until the beginning of the twentieth century. In the context of my research, curative sites are defined as places or locations that both the medical community and popular opinion deemed to be salubrious or health inducing, and includes hospitals, sanitoriums, asylums, and hydropathic hotels. I examine how women as patients were able to influence the prevailing medical discourse about gender and race, as well as the ways in which female subjectivity was spatially constituted at that time.

Read Lisa’s blog posts.


Original Team Coordinator Gemma Angel left the team in September 2013, following the successful completion of her PhD at UCL’s History of Art Department.  Gemma was project leader and co-curator on our first major project Foreign Bodies, a cross-collections exhibition at UCL which ran from March 18th until June 20th 2013.

Since completing her PhD, Gemma has worked at the University of Leeds Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) on a 6 month Wellcome Trust ISSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in the medical humanities, and was a Junior Research Fellow at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) from 2015-2016, working on medical museum collections of human remains and the 2004 Human Tissue Act (HTA). She also convened the Bodily Matters: Human Biomatter in Art seminar series and international conference in 2016, and was most recently a Society Fellow at Cornell University Society for the Humanities (SHUM), working on the focal theme Skin from 2016-2017.

She is currently working on her first book, Speaking Scars: Tattoos, Crime & Collecting, based on her doctoral work on the Wellcome Collection of 300 preserved tattoos.

Dr. Gemma Angel 

UCL History of Art Department and the Science Museum, London

I completed my PhD in December 2013 with UCL History of Art Department and the Science Museum London, funded by the AHRC under their Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme. My research focused upon a collection of 300 preserved tattooed human skins, which are housed in the storage archives of the Science Museum. Historically part of the Wellcome Collection, these objects were purchased in 1929 from a Parisian doctor who claimed to have acquired his collection through his work in military prisons and hospitals. Little else was known about these objects at the outset of the project, and it has been my task to carry out in-depth material and historical analysis of the collection.

My research background and approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on a range of fields, including anthropology, sensory ethnography, history of medicine, science and technology studies, and material culture studies. I received my MA in Visual Anthropology from the University of Manchester in 2009, and I have also previously trained as a tattooist.

Find out more about my doctoral work by visiting my research blog: www.lifeand6months.com

For more information on my postdoctoral research at UCL IAS visit: www.thanatocorpus.com

For more information on my postdoctoral research at Cornell SHUM click here.

Or follow me on Twitter: @lifeand6months

Read Gemma’s interview with UCL Portico magazine on preserved tattoos in UCL’s pathology collections, or find her blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums on a range of objects and collections here.


Felicity Winkley

UCL Institute of Archaeology

Based at UCL Institute of Archaeology, I am currently researching the attitudes of metal detector users in England. I am interested in what proportion of users feel attached to the landscape in which they detect, and how this attachment may impact on their feelings towards finds discovered there. I suggest that metal detectorists use landscape, as well as the objects they find, to reconstruct a buried past. I first became interested in heritage management during my BA in Archaeology at the University of Bristol, but my desire to maintain an archaeological – rather than a museological – focus led me to complete my Masters in Artefact Studies at UCL in 2009. Following this, I completed training as a Finds Liason Officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) whilst undertaking an internship funded by the Headley Trust, during which I was struck by the idea for my current research project.

Read Felicity’s blog posts.

Ann Liljas


Ann Liljas

UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health

I look at the burden and determinants of sensory impairment in older adults. Part of the study I investigate the impact of sensory impairment on adverse outcomes, disability and mortality. I will also examine the role of inflammation in sensory impairment. My research is based on two large established on-going national cohorts at UCL: The British Regional Heart Study (BRHS) and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).

Twitter: @AnnLiljas

Read Ann’s blog posts.


Ruth was a member of the Engagement Team from February 2013 until June 2014, contributing to our Landscape and Movement events. She is continuing to pursue her doctoral research at UCL and will continue to provide input into the Student Engager project.

Ruth Blackburn

UCL Departments of Mental Health Sciences and Primary Care & Population Health


I am a second year PhD student working with the departments of Mental Health Sciences and Primary Care and Population Health on the PRIMROSE program, which investigates cardiovascular disease in people with severe mental illness.  The main focus of my PhD is to explore the extent to which differences in cardiovascular health and disease prevention exist between people with, or without, severe mental illness.  I will use electronic patient records that are generated by doctor and patient consultations in approximately 500 General Practices across the United Kingdom to establish how patterns of cardiovascular disease and preventative care have changed over time in different patient groups.  My PhD and other phases of PRIMROSE will help establish the evidence-base needed to design, implement and assess the effectiveness of a new package of care for cardiovascular disease prevention in people with severe mental illness.

Follow me on Twitter: @mind_the_gap___

Read Ruth’s blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums here.


One of the original team members, Suzanne was awarded her doctorate from UCL in 2014. She was a Co-curator of the Foreign Bodies exhibition and a very popular engager in all of the museums.

Suzanne Harvey #2Dr. Suzanne Harvey

UCL Department of Anthropology

I am a biological anthropologist, studying the evolution of human behaviour and communication through the study of non-human primates. My fieldwork is carried out at Gashaka-Gumti National Park in Nigeria, where I have been studying infant socialisation in baboons, including their ability to manipulate adults, and whether this behaviour is affected by the presence of an audience. In collaboration with the University of St. Andrews, I am analysing the vocalisations of infant baboons to determine whether they have meanings that are understood by adults. I am interested in many aspects of complex social behaviour in primates, particularly those involving communication. Past projects have focused on reconciliation after conflict in rhesus macaques, and communication in captive diana monkeys and red-ruffed lemurs.

Follow me on Twitter: @SuzeMonkey

Read Suzanne’s blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums here.


Having worked with the original team from the inception of the project until June 2013, Alicia was one of the curators of our Foreign Bodies exhibition, making a fantastic contribution to a very successful project. Alicia completed her doctoral work at UCL in 2015 and is now working full time as a public health specialist.

AliceAlicia Thornton

UCL Department of Infection and Population Health

I am an epidemiologist specialising in HIV and sexual health. Studying the patterns of disease within a population allows care givers and policy makers to tailor prevention and treatment strategies towards those most at risk of becoming infected or suffering serious consequences from an infection. Excellent treatment options for people living with HIV have dramatically changed how HIV is managed, and many people with HIV are now living longer and healthier lives. As such, other co-existing illnesses have become an increasingly important area in the care of HIV positive individuals. My current research is focused on the clinical outcomes of HIV positive individuals who are co-infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. I am examining how the two infections impact on each other with regard to progression of disease and the ways in which different treatment strategies for each of the infections can improve outcomes for patients. To answer these questions, I analyse data from a large dataset containing clinical and demographic information on adult patients seen for care at collaborating centres across the UK. I hope that the findings from my research will feed into guidelines and care for treatment of co-infected patients.

Follow me on Twitter: @AliciaThornton3

Read Alicia’s blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums here.


In April 2013, team member Sarah Chaney was awarded her doctorate in History of Medicine, which meant that her time with us came to an end. Sarah was lead curator on our first major project Foreign Bodies, a cross-collections exhibition at UCL which ran from March 18th until June 20th 2013.

Sarah ChaneyDr. Sarah Chaney

UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines

I recently completed my PhD in the UCL Centre for the History of Psychological Disciplines. My research interests include the history of psychology and mental health, and 19th century medicine more generally. My research focuses on asylums around the turn of the twentieth century (c. 1880 – 1910), based in the archives of the Bethlem Royal Hospital (the original ‘Bedlam’, founded 1247). In particular, I’m interested in the topic of ‘self-mutilation’ in English psychiatry, which appears to be a new concern in this period. Psychiatrists who wrote about ‘self-mutilation’ drew on a wide variety of fields – including anthropology, psychology, spiritualism and religious and literary allegory – in an attempt to understand self-injurious acts. Indeed, their texts on self-mutilation tell us a great deal about contemporary ideas of the human condition, normal psychology, and selfhood. I have worked at a number of different medical museums, and I’m currently working at the Bethlem Museum.

Follow me on twitter: @kentishscribble

Read Sarah’s blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums here.


Another of our original team members, Katie Donington left us at the end of 2012, and has now gone on to postdoctoral research on the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership Project.

Katie Donington Dr. Katie Donington

UCL Department of History

My PhD was with the ESRC funded Legacies of British Slave-Ownership Project in the Department of History at University College London. This ongoing project is using the 1838 Slave Compensation Registers to identify and build a database of the slave-owners resident in Britain at the end of slavery in the Caribbean. I received both my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and History (Joint Honours) and my Master’s degree in Art Gallery and Museum Studies from the University of Leeds in 2005 and 2007 respectively. I returned to London, where I grew up, in 2008 to work as a Research Assistant for H.M.S Belfast. I then transferred to the Holocaust and Genocide History Department at the Imperial War Museum, before leaving in 2009 to begin my PhD.

My PhD research used the lens of a single slave-owner and sugar merchant George Hibbert M.P. (1757-1837) to explore the representation of the proslavery lobby throughout the course of abolition. It examines the cultural, social, economic, political and imperial impacts of slave-based wealth with a specific focus on Jamaica and London. I am particularly interested in the relationship between slavery, representation, memory and national identity. Alongside this I am also concerned with the ways in which pro-slavery discourse shaped the rhetoric and languages of racial thinking both during the period of abolition and beyond.

Read Katie’s blog posts for UCL Researchers in Museums here.