This page lists the current BSHS ambassadors.

Domestic Biographies

Sarah Jane Bodell
Sarah Jane BodellAmbassador (University of Warwick)
Sarah Jane Bodell is a second-year doctoral student in history at the University of Warwick studying twentieth century medical missions in London. She holds master’s degrees in History of Medicine and Bioethics and Medical Humanities. Her research has ranged from Partition of India to the slums of early twentieth century London. Sarah Jane’s work seeks particularly to interrogate and understand the colonising process of biomedicine through the setting of the medical mission. Further research interests include gender and women in medical missions, medical space and discourses, epistemic knowledge and power, and the relationship between religion and biomedicine.
Arik Clausner
Arik ClausnerAmbassador (University of St. Andrews)
Thesis title: “In Aid of Nation and Empire: The Emergence of the Professional British Applied Entomologist”

I am a second-year Ph.D. student at the University of St. Andrews, working under the supervision of Dr. John Clark. My thesis examines the role of the professional applied entomologists in the British Empire during the first half of the twentieth century, with a particular focus on the emergence of the Imperial Bureau of Entomology.

After growing up in sunny San Diego, California, I attended Dartmouth College, where I completed my B.A. in 2009 with majors in European History (High Honors) and Asian & Middle Eastern Studies. After a short break I returned to studying history, completing a M.Sc. in Modern British and Irish History at the University of Edinburgh, following which I began my Ph.D. work. In my free time I play water polo for the University of St. Andrews.

Kathrin Hiepko
Kathrin HiepkoAmbassador (University of Manchester)
I am a first year PhD student at the University of Manchester’s Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in History at the University of Bristol. I am broadly interested in the nationalised healthcare system of the former German Democratic Republic and its response to the growing incidence of chronic diseases. One such disease in particular is diabetes mellitus, which is central to my PhD project. Diabetes is often associated with capitalism, choice and consumption, yet was increasingly important and talked about in this state socialist society. I am curious to know how, with similar rates to its Western neighbour, this disease was handled behind the Iron Curtain, and whether novel ideas were created in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation which may be usefully employed elsewhere. As a multi-disciplinary project, I am looking to unite the historiographical arguments present within the social history of medicine on diabetes and chronic diseases with the social and cultural examinations of the GDR, especially regarding the complex relationship between East German citizens and the state at large.
Oliver Hill-Andrews
Oliver Hill-AndrewsAmbassador (University of Sussex)
Oliver is a third-year PhD student in the History Department at the University of Sussex. His research, on the science writer J.G. Crowther, brings together his interests in science, politics and popularization. He has an MPhil from the Cambridge HPS department and a history degree from Sussex. He is particularly interested in integrating history of science insights with general history. Other interests include the history of biology, historical biography and the history of the book.
Matthew Holmes
Matthew HolmesAmbassador (University of Leeds)
Matthew Holmes is a third-year PhD student at the Centre for History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds. His thesis examines the history of plant science and biotechnology since the 1970s, using the archives of his collaborative doctoral award partner, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). Matthew holds a Masters in environmental history from the University of St. Andrews and was elected to the Council for the Society for the History of Natural History (SHNH) in 2015. He regularly attends BSHS conferences and has always found the Society to be a friendly and supportive body.
Rebecka Klette
Rebecka KletteAmbassador (Birkbeck, University of London)
Rebecka Klette has recently completed an MA in Victorian Studies at Birkbeck, University of London, and is currently finalising her phd research proposal to be submitted to Birkbeck in 2016, concerning the reception and incorporation of degeneration theory into Scandinavian racial biology, literature, cultural debate, and satire, 1870-1922.
Sebestian Kroupa
Sebestian KroupaAmbassador (University of Cambridge)
I am a first-year PhD student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, broadly interested in early modern natural knowledge and, in particular, the social, cultural, economic and material contexts of its transmission. Revolving around these themes, my thesis is concerned with long-distance networks of knowledge circulation between Southeast Asia and Europe around 1700. More specifically, I am looking at the case of Georg Joseph Kamel (1661-1706), a Jesuit pharmacist stationed in the Philippines, and his communication network in which he exchanged letters, treatises and specimens with surgeons stationed in the Dutch East Indies and the British India, as well as naturalists in London.

Originally from Prague, Czech Republic, I obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of St Andrews in 2014. Seeking a way to reconcile my interests in science and the humanities, I joined the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, where I received my MPhil in 2015 and subsequently began my PhD.

Yewande Okuleye
Yewande OkuleyeAmbassador (University of Leicester)
Yewande Okuleye is completing her PhD in the history of the re-medicalisation of cannabis(1992-2016) at University of Leicester, England. My research investigates the confluence of factors which facilitated the re-medicalisation of cannabis as a medicine despite the political, medical, social, and cultural barriers which limited the scientific research into the medicinal potential of the cannabis plant. My project seeks to examine how different actors negotiated these restrictions. Oral history interviews have been conducted with key actors within the scientific, medical, legal, and lay communities with the view to write a more nuanced history which foregrounds voices from the margins.
I have integrated a public engagement aspect into my PhD which explores the visual and material culture of science and medicine, as entry points to discuss aspects of my research. I volunteered as a STEM Ambassador and I am keen to develop and collaborate on projects which encourage BAME students to engage with science.
Yewande has a degree in Biochemistry and worked as a research scientist at the Body Shop. Yewande was part of the founding team which developed the cosmetic science degree course at the University of the Arts, London where she lectured cosmetic chemistry. Yewande completed a Masters in History of Medicine at UCL Wellcome Centre before she commenced her PhD.
Sergio Orozco-Echeverri
Sergio Orozco-EcheverriAmbassador (University of Edinburgh)
I’m a PhD student in Science and Technology Studies at the Science Studies Unit, University of Edinburgh. I’m currently working on the emergence of laws of nature during the Scientific Revolution and particularly during the British reception of Cartesian lois de la nature until Newton’s Principia.
I have been working on the early modern science and philosophy since my undergrad days, particularly on Newton’s natural philosophy, its roots and its immediate reception. I completed my MPhil on the problem of language in Thomas Hobbes, trying to make sense of his claim that human language is a tool by means of which we create things; I checked how this idea was applied to his natural philosophy and to his mathematics and the role it played in his major controversies.
After that I moved to do some research on the reception of Newtonianism into colonial Spanish territories in South America, particularly in New Granada (1760-1808) in José Celestino Mutis’ Royal Botanical Expedition. Finally, I returned to the European stage of the Scientific Revolution, trying to fill the gap on the origin of laws of nature in the seventeenth century.
Tom Ritchie
Tom RitchieAmbassador (University of Kent)
Tom Ritchie is a first year PhD student at the Centre for the History of the Sciences (CHOTS), University of Kent. Tom thesis title is “Meccano; the nuts and bolts of science” and focuses on Meccano as a construction material used to create differential analysers in pre-war Britain, and a tool of nostalgia in post-war Britain, with support from an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership scholarship. He holds an MA in History of Science, Medicine, Environment and Technology. As well as this, he teaches the module “An Introduction to the History of Science” at Kent. Tom also has experience of working in student representation, advocacy and campaigning in his role as Student Union President from 2011-2013, which has informed his interest in Widening Participation initiatives within Higher Education.

Further research interests include how children learn through play, the history of computing and maths and changing learning pedagogies in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Overseas Biographies


Thomas Erslev
Thomas ErslevAmbassador (Aarhus University)
Thomas Erslev is pursuing a doctoral degree at Aarhus University. His project, “The Brain as Object – An Intellectual History of the Scientific, Cultural and Ethical Meanings of the changing Ontological Status of the Brain”, studies the neurosciences in Denmark in the last half of the twentieth century through the case of a Danish brain collection. The collection finds itself at the intersection of science, policy, ethics, public opinion and economy and functions as a prism for a broader structural analysis of the role(s) of the brain in many spheres in the period. Thomas holds a BA in intellectual history from Aarhus University and an MSc in HSTM from the University of Manchester.
Pedro Ricardo Fonesca
Pedro Ricardo FonescaAmbassador (University of Coimbra, Portugal)
Pedro Ricardo Fonseca was born in London in 1980. In 1990 he moved to Portugal where he has lived ever since. He graduated in History at the University of Coimbra and is currently a PhD candidate at the same institution under scholarship of FCT-Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. His thesis is on the history of Darwinism in Portugal during the twentieth century, supervised by Ana Leonor Pereira and João Rui Pita. He is currently a researcher at the Centre of Interdisciplinary Studies of the Twentieth Century of the University of Coimbra, Portugal (CEIS20-UC). Fonseca has published and presented several papers based on his PhD research. As a single author or together with his supervisors, he has focused mainly on the influence of Darwinism and Evolutionary Theory upon Portuguese natural sciences, but has also covered several other related topics, such as the Portuguese translations of Charles Darwin’s works; the iconography of Charles Darwin in Portugal; the Portuguese Darwinian celebrations, and the sociobiology debate in Portugal. He has been a member of the BSHS since 2010 and is one of the BSHS’s overseas ambassadors.
Catarina Madruga
Catarina MadrugaAmbassador (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
I am a third-year PhD student in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon and I work on the broad subject of natural history (zoological) collections and museums in the 19th century. I am interested in the practices of collecting and exhibiting, and the cultural, symbolic and political meanings of the knowledge produced and negotiated from such collections and in such institutions.
Specifically, my thesis focuses on the zoological collections that were gathered in Lisbon in the second half of the 19th century and that were collected in, what were at the time, the Portuguese territories in Africa. By focusing on the construction of biogeographic knowledge and the contemporary maintenance of the Portuguese empire, my thesis aims to problematize the relationship between taxonomy and imperial discourse, practices, and policies.
Ignacio Suay-Matallana
Ignacio Suay-MatallanaAmbassador (University of Valencia)
Ignacio Suay-Matallana is a PhD candidate on History of Science at the University of Valencia, and he has been visiting scholar at the Oxford Brookes University (UK) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). His doctoral project is focused on experts on chemical analysis (19th and 20th century). His research interests include scientific biographies,textbooks, scientific travels, sites of chemistry and scientific controversies. In addition, he has worked in projects to study and to catalogue scientific instruments, and he has also been involved in history of science exhibitions.
Adrian James Kirwan
Adrian James KirwanAmbassador (National University of Ireland, Maynooth)
I am a second year Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History, NUI, Maynooth, funded by the Irish Research Council. My research focuses on the interaction between society and technology. The title of my Ph.D. thesis is ‘Telecommunications in the nineteenth century, with particular reference to Ireland.’ This shall investigate how societal, economic and political factors influenced the development of telecommunications in nineteenth century Ireland. It shall also investigate the various impacts that telecommunication technologies had on the island. The role that Ireland’s membership of the United Kingdom had on these developments shall be central to this study.
Dorit Brixius
Dorit BrixiusAmbassador (European University Institute)
Dorit is a PhD candidate in history at the European University Institute (EUI) Florence, Italy, under the supervision of Professor Stéphane Van Damme. She specialises in the history of botany on eighteenth-century Isle de France (present-day Mauritius). Before coming to the EUI, she undertook her undergraduate studies partly at Westminster University London, UK, and mainly at the University of Potsdam, Germany, from where she later graduated ‘with distinction’ in Early Modern Cultural History (MA). While working on her dissertation, she has been a short-time pre-doctoral fellow at the Institut historique allemand Paris, a visiting pre-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte Berlin and a visiting PhD student at the University of Cambridge (HPS) and the EHESS Paris.

Together with Tilman Kulke and in collaboration with geschichte.transnational, she is editor and co-ordinator of the postgraduate project Research in Dialogue – Dialogue in Research and co-founder of the History of Science Working Group in Florence.

Didi van Trijp
Didi van TrijpAmbassador (Leiden University)
Didi is a second-year PhD student at Leiden University. She holds an MSc from Utrecht University and a degree in history from the same institution. Her research is concerned with knowledge of the world underwater (be it oceans, seas, rivers or streams) in Europe during the long-eighteenth century. The primary focus is the development of ichthyology, a branch of zoology that studies sea creatures, particularly fish. She is especially interested in visual cultures of natural history, connections between art and science, and the history of knowledge cultures and practices more generally.

North America