My work at Medical Museion
I am a postdoctoral researcher (or postdoc) at Medical Museion and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR) working on a project called Body Time. This interdisciplinary project brings together science, culture, history, and philosophy to think about circadian rhythms – the 24-hour cycles which drive our lives. New research by scientists is revealing the mechanisms that govern these rhythms at a cellular level in order to understand how our internal clocks speak with each other. Cutting-edge analysis of the numerous factors governing our body clocks begs profound questions regarding our interaction with the external environment. My role spans and unites the scientific work of CBMR and the creative practice of Museion. I collaborate closely with both the Zierath and Gerhart-Hines groups at the Center.
I am particularly interested in the intersection of circadian cycles of sleep and diet on discourses of what it means to be human in a ‘modern world’, starting as early as the 19th century. We intend for this project to involve curatorial work – engaging the public with the relevance of circadian rhythms in their own lives through objects, art and digital media. I am also interested in how we can bring the ‘museum experience’ to unexpected places and developing communication tools for translating contemporary circadian science to public audiences.
I have an interdisciplinary background as a curator and a historian of medicine. While I have moved between academia and museums, I have always been interested in how past and present can work together to engage people with compelling narratives about what it means to be human. I studied Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, DC where I focused on cultural anthropology with a specialism in France and the Middle East. I became interested in the power of cultural institutions like museums to bring people from different backgrounds together, and in 2010 went on to pursue an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at the University of Manchester. It was during my first museum role at the Science Museum in London that I became interested in the history of medicine and began to develop this into a curatorial specialism.
I worked as Assistant Curator at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of Surgeons caring for their collections of skulls and teeth before beginning my PhD at Queen Mary University of London in 2014. My project Imperial Mobilities explored how the movement of imperial people and ideas influenced British medical practice and research in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As ever, I let the medical museum be my guide – allowing human remains, photographs, and case notes to inspire my journey through British imperial medicine. After completing my PhD I worked at the Royal College of Physicians in London as Senior Curator – managing the exhibition and public programmes, as well as their museum collections. I especially enjoyed curating a 2018 exhibition titled ‘This vexed question: 500 years of women in medicine’ which was specially commended in the British Society for the History of Science Great Exhibitions Prize.
I joined the Medical Museion and CBMR in my current role as a postdoctoral researcher in 2019.
I would be very interested to hear from researchers and artists who work with themes around time and temporality, sleep and sleeplessness in its historical and cultural contexts, and light/electricity and health.