I am an environmental and medical historian focusing on post 1750 Britain, based at Newcastle University. My recent Wellcome Fellowship, The Garden as a Laboratory, merged the history of medicine, health and science, with that of the landscape and environment. The research from this has just been published as a monograph, The Doctor’s Garden: Medicine, Science and Horticulture in Late Georgian Britain by Yale University Press.
Other areas of expertise include the design and use of nineteenth and twentieth-century English hospital and asylum gardens, cold bathing as a healthy activity in the eighteenth-century landscape garden and the role of medical practitioners in the Victorian parks movement. By examining the creation and use of green and blue spaces in relation to changing medical concepts, my research crosses the disciplinary boundaries of medical history, landscape history and history of science.
Currently I am a Co-Investigator on two major UKRI funded projects. The AHRC funded ‘In All Our Footsteps: Tracking, Mapping and Experiencing Rights of Way in Post-War Britain’ led by Professor Glen O’Hara at Oxford Brookes University and the NERC funded Connected treescapes: a portfolio approach for delivering multiple public benefits from UK treescapes in the rural-urban continuum led by Professor Piran White at York University.
I am also currently leading two networks: One funded by the AHRC with Sarah Bell of Exeter University is Unlocking Landscapes Network: History, Culture and Sensory Diversity in Landscape Use and Decision Making (2020-2022). This network is being shaped by a project steering group, including colleagues from Exeter and Bristol Universities, Historic England, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust, the Sensory Trust, Sense, and Natural Inclusion. By bringing together academics, practitioners and policy makers, ‘Unlocking Landscapes’ will bridge traditional policy silos. We aim to complement management and decision-making approaches that foreground biodiversity with a focus on human diversity. Through the network, we will consider the complex ways in which landscapes become meaningful to diverse individuals and groups through their senses, personal memories and shared histories.
The other network is funded by the Wellcome Trust, ‘MedEnv: Intersections in Medical and Environmental Humanities’ (2020-2022) with colleagues at Liverpool and Bristol Universities. Our ambition is to lead research in this field from an historically-informed humanities standpoint and to develop future research collaborations to consider the rich nature of human and non-human interrelationships and their impact on health and wellbeing.
Before arriving at Newcastle in 2019, I was a Senior Lecturer in History at the University Chester, a Wellcome Fellow in Medical History & Humanities at King’s College London (2013-15) and a Research Fellow on the Leverhulme funded Historic Parks & Gardens of England project at the University of Bristol (2007-2012). I have also worked as a museum assistant, writer and editor for Usborne publishing and as a Research Facilitator for Oxford University.