I am a specialist in the history of science, with focuses on Britain, France, German-speaking Europe and the USA from the late-eighteenth to early-twentieth century.
I studied for my undergraduate degree in History at King’s, and then took my MA in Social and Cultural History at Birkbeck, University of London. I stayed on at Birkbeck for my PhD, which was awarded in 2008 (entitled ‘Learned Societies and the Ancient National Past in Britain, France and Germany, 1830-1890,’ and supported by the AHRC). After this, I held a variety of teaching and research positions at the German Historical Institute London and the universities of Bristol and Exeter, and was Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Manchester (2012-2015). I joined the history department at King's in September 2015.
Research interests and PhD supervision
- History of the human, biological and “deep time” sciences.
- History of ideas of race and human difference.
- Ideas of the past and historical consciousness.
- Theories of development, evolution and degeneration.
- Transnational and international approaches to history.
My work broadly focuses around two distinct areas: firstly how scholarly, scientific and intellectual approaches develop across national boundaries and between different disciplinary fields; and changing ideas of development and change, whether this be historical, evolutionary or cultural. I am interested in linking approaches from the history of science with cultural and intellectual history, and working across different national and geographic areas.
I have particularly strong interests in the history of anthropology, archaeology, human origins research, and palaeontology. My current project is an international history of mammal palaeontology in the 1880-1950 period, which has been supported by a Mid-Career Fellowship from the British Academy, and involved archival research in the USA, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
I would be pleased to hear from prospective postgraduate students interested in the modern history of science and medicine, or more generally in the cultural and intellectual history of Britain, France, German-speaking Europe and the USA in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.
I would be particularly interested in projects touching on the following areas:
- Internationalism and nationalism, particularly in scholarship and science.
- The human, “deep-time” and biological sciences (especially anthropology, archaeology and palaeontology).
- Comparative and transnational approaches to history.
- The history of ideas of racial and cultural difference, and European perceptions of other cultures.
- Ideas of progress, evolution and degeneration.
- The history of museums and collections.
Expertise and public engagement
I am happy to be contacted on: the history of nineteenth and early-twentieth century science; the history of museums and other public scientific institutions; the history of ideas of race and European engagement with the wider world in the modern period; and the history and wider cultural implications of palaeontology, human evolution, archaeology and prehistory.
I am very interested in digital approaches to history, and am currently developing an online exhibition based on my research in the history of mammal palaeontology.
Recently, I organized an interdisciplinary workshop on the theme of 'Popularizing Palaeontology: Current and Historical Perspectives,' reflecting on the public discussion of palaeontological ideas from the nineteenth century to the present. More details, videos of the papers and blogposts from the participants can be found here: poppalaeo.com