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)
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.
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.

Thomas Sefton
Thomas SeftonAmbassador (University of Glasgow)
Thomas Sefton is a second year doctoral student in Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences. Thomas is preparing his thesis on the work of William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, as viewed through the lens of the history of environmental science. Thomas’ interests are chiefly in Kelvin’s intended and unintended impact in the earth sciences, his network of correspondents, and Kelvin’s relationship with his scientific instruments, their promotion and distribution, and with his instrument maker, James White. He is also interested in the shape of interdisciplinary research in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and Kelvin’s presidency of the Glasgow Geological Society.

Thomas previously studied for a Master of Geology degree at the University of Leicester.

Emma Swain
Emma SwainAmbassador (Queen's University Belfast)
Emma Swain is in her second year of doctoral studies at Queen’s University, Belfast.
She examines Christian conceptualisations of human-animal relations in the late-Victorian religious periodical press. This includes studying the religious engagements with scientific/intellectual developments such as evolutionary theory, as well as debates about the incorporation of non-human animals within a moral sphere and a discourse of ‘rights’ such as in the vivisection debates, and debates concerning human exceptionalism and animal ethics.
Ellen Packham
Ellen PackhamAmbassador (University of Aberdeen)
Ellen Packham is a PhD student at the Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine in the University of Aberdeen. Her research explores the literary habits of British professional engineers in the period between 1750 and 1900 considering the genres of writing adopted, adapted and created by engineers, their transformation over time, and their placing within broader literary, scientific and practical cultures. Ellen has a first degree in chemistry and completed an MLitt at the University of Aberdeen in 2017, thanks to the support of a BSHS Master’s Degree Bursary.

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.
Déborah Dubald
Déborah DubaldAmbassador (European University Institute)
Déborah Dubald is a fourth-year PhD researcher at the European University Institute, under the supervision of Prof. Stéphane Van Damme (EUI, Florence) and Prof. Antonella Romano (Centre Alexandre Koyré, EHESS, Paris). In her dissertation, she looks at the creation of municipal natural history museums in three French cities, Lyon, Nantes and Toulouse, from 1800 to 1870. More specifically, she questions the municipalisation of scientific displays of natural knowledge and how they partake in a strategy of visibility and identification for the local municipal and scholarly elites. Thereby, she also questions long-standing views over spatial hierarchies such as core/periphery and Paris/province.

Prior to that she was trained in History at the University of Strasbourg under the lead of Prof. Jean-François Chauvard and Prof. Isabelle Laboulais.

She is the co-founder of the History of Science working group ( – Twitter @eui_hos) at the European University Institute, which hosted the 2017 postgraduate BSHS conference.

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

Jason Grier
Jason GrierAmbassador (York University)
Jason Grier is a PhD student at York University, Canada who studies the history of science and imperialism in the eighteenth-century greater Great Britain. Jason received a BA and MA in history from the University of Saskatchewan, writing a thesis on Isaac Newton’s optical controversies with Robert Hooke, before moving to Toronto to complete his PhD. His dissertation looks at navigational and bureaucratic practices in the early eighteenth century in order to better understand problems of long-distance control and the relationship between science and imperialism.

Australia and New Zealand

Johanna Parker
Johanna ParkerAmbassador (Australian National University)
Johanna is a PhD candidate at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australian National University. Johanna holds a Master of Arts in Museum Studies (International Scholarship) from the University of Leicester, UK, and a Master of Arts in Public History from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Johanna has worked as a social history curator at the National Museum of Australia, the National Archives of Australia and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House from 1999 to 2009. In 2009, Johanna began her career in the Australian Government where she has held various positions including managing the Museums and Repatriation Section, and serving a term as the Departmental Liaison Officer at Australia’s Parliament House. In 2015, Johanna was awarded the Secretary’s Award for Academic Achievement, Attorney-General’s Department, “for dedication to the creation of world leading policy advice in the areas of museum collections and repatriation of Indigenous human remains”. Johanna’s research interests are museological legislation and ethics, interpretation, private collectors of cultural material and human remains and British and Australian medical professionals of the 19th century.