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Personal profile

Personal profile

I am a biological anthropologist interested in how humans influence and adapt to changing environmental conditions, particularly in the context of the human-induced changes of the Anthropocene.

I am also:

The Northern Europe Hub Co-ordinator for the Planetary Health Alliance 

A Senior Editor with CABI OneHealth 

A World Health Organization Infodemic Manager

Geography Recorder for the British Science Association 

An Associate Fellow with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

Research interests

Health Risks and Resilience

Human health and behaviour

Evolutionary biology

Information spread

 

I am Director of Research for the Department of Health Studies, Course Director for the MA Global Health: Culture, Society and Behaviour, and MSc Global Health: Human Health and the Environment.

 

My main research interests is human health risk, particularly with regard to evolutionary and population biology, and how we have adapted (or not) to live in modern environments. I am interested in how modern conditions affect our health across the life course and how socioeconomic and environmental conditions impact on health. I have a specific interest in the risks posed to health when healthcare systems are disrupted or overwhelmed by conflict, disasters and emergencies.

I am interested in health risk and resilience at individual, community, national and international levels, particularly in response to natural hazards including serious disease outbreaks, severe weather events and flooding as well as by climate change, industrial accidents and pollution, and CBRN attacks. From 2007-2017, I ran the Resilience and Emergency Management programme within the National Security and Resilience Department of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), a policy think tank working closely with UK government, including the Cabinet Office, MoD, Home Office and Foreign Office. I remain an Associate Fellow at RUSI.

My PhD was in how health information is sought out, consumed and trusted over digital networks. Funded under a Health, the Human Body and Behaviour (H2B2) interdisciplinary scholarship, the programme was admimistered by RHUL's Department of Biological Sciences, and my PhD was co-supervised by Computer Science (Professor Chris Watkins) and Geography (Professor Dorothea Kleine and Dr Alastair Pinkerton). I retain an interest in how health information is sought out, shared and trusted during health emergencies, including over peer-to-peer platforms and social media, and how relevant scientific information and advice is communicated from the authorities to the affected population. During the COVID19 pandemic, I moderated COVID-19 discussion forums on reddit, and was one of the first cohort to qualify as a WHO Infodemic Manager; I have subsequently coached later cohorts.

Current projects

Improving access to nutritious food through small-scale integrated farming systems in Eldoret, Kenya With colleagues in Biological Sciences, and Politics and International Relations at RHUL, and colleagues at the University of Eldoret, Kenya, I  am investigating ways to improve access to nutritious foods (particularly those that address micronutrient deficiencies in young children) in Eldoret, Kenya, through vertical growing systems that optimise water, land and energy use.

Risk mapping climate change and infectious disease With colleagues in Earth Sciences, I am investigating the link between changing climate conditions and disease risk and the development of models to better predict future distribution of disease risk.

Past projects

Antibiotic use in the Indian Livestock sector: From 2017-2022 I was co-investigator on two projects jointly funded by the ESRC and the Indian Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under the Newton-Bhabha Fund, exploring how antimicrobial resistance emerges and spreads in agricultural environments, particularly through the farm-to-fork poultry food chain. My role in the projects was to lead social science work packages that provided a stronger understanding of the behaviour, beliefs and relationships that drive the use of antibiotics, including mapping the flow of antibiotics into the food systems and the behavioural drivers of use. This lead to an identification of climate change as a major driver of both animal ill-health and the (inappropriate) use of antibiotics by farmers in an attempt to address this. 

As a result of this project, I am particularly interested in the modernisation of developing country food systems, many of which are transitioning from smallholder farms that sell through wet markets direct to consumers, to intensive commercial systems that produce packaged foods (often refrigerated or frozen) to supermarkets. I am interested in the impact and potential impact of this transition on food safety and diet, on the livelihoods of the producers and on the spread of antibiotic resistance through farms, farming communities and food chains.

COVID-19: Mutual Aid Groups and Their Lessons for Post-Crisis Community CareFrom 2021-22 I was co-I on an AHRC-funded project, led by Dr Oli Mould at RHUL, to investigate the role of emergent volunteers during the COVID19 pandemic, including how they self-orgnanised, the services they provided, and how they fitted into local response frameworks. One of the outputs of this project is a Manifesto for Mutual Aid.

 

Educational background

My undergraduate degree is in Archaeology and Anthropology from Cambridge University (Part II Biological Anthropology). My dissertation was on sexual dimorphism in Australopithecus afarensis.

I hold a PhD from Royal Holloway, funded under a Reid Scholarship in Health, the Human Body and Behaviour, (H2B2) administered through the School of Biological Sciences and co-supervised by the departments of Computer Science and Geography. My PhD Thesis, entitled "The Role of Online Discussion Forums During a Public Health Emergency", explored how a peer-to-peer forum could be configured to provide high-quality, trusted information during a serious disease outbreak.

From 2013-2016 I was a Visiting Fellow at Symbiosis School of Biological Sciences, Symbiosis International University, in Pune, India, as part of an FCO-funded project to promote the safe and secure use of radiological material and radiopharmaceuticals in India's expanding nuclear medicine sector.

From 2017-2019 I was Public Health Policy Advisor to the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at Oxford University. I worked full-time at the Oxford Martin School from September 2017-August 2018. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Royal Holloway, University of London

1 Sep 20137 Oct 2017

Award Date: 7 Oct 2017

BA (Hons), University of Cambridge

2 Oct 19891 Jun 1992

Award Date: 1 Jun 1992

External positions

Geography Section Recorder, British Science Association

1 Dec 20201 Dec 2025

Northern Europe Hub Co-ordinator, Planetary Health Alliance

Oct 2019 → …

Associate Fellow, Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies

1 Jan 2007 → …

Keywords

  • Anthropology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Anthropocene
  • Human & social geography
  • Resilience
  • Environmental biology
  • Planetary Health
  • antibiotic resistance
  • Population genetics & evolution

Network

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or
  • Best Oral Presentation Award

    Sivaraman, G. K. (Recipient), Muneeb, K. H. (Recipient), Sudha, S. (Recipient), Cole, Jennifer (Recipient), Shome, B. (Recipient) & Holmes, M. (Recipient), 29 May 2021

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

    File