I am an early career researcher aiming to conduct engaged, impactful, public-facing research that targets real-world needs.
My academic background is in the arts and humanities. I completed my undergraduate degree in English and French at Durham University, graduating in summer 2018. Following the award of a full AHRC scholarship, I studied for my Master’s degree in English Literature (1900-present day) at the University of Oxford. I returned to Durham in October 2019 to start my PhD, and you can read more about this project here.
More information about my academic background can be found on my Durham University webpage.
In autumn 2008, just after my fifteenth birthday, I developed a ‘flu-like virus which triggered almost a decade of chronic, complex, and often severe ill health. Medical testing and imaging produced no clear answers; my illness, like so many others, had no accepted biomedical explanation. My teenage years were filled with formative experiences of a very different kind, which continue to have a profound impact on my life and on my thinking.
My PhD project was inspired by my own experience of illness, as well as by my voluntary work with charities, organisations, and patient groups supporting those with poorly-understood medical conditions. Over a number of years I held a variety of voluntary roles, spanning office work, fundraising, working on a telephone helpline, and organising a demonstration. Through these experiences, I saw that people with these complex conditions were suffering not only from the severity of their physical symptoms but also from the effects of stigma, shame and social exclusion. I was very surprised to see that little research had been carried out into these experiences, so I designed my PhD project to fill this gap. I hope that it will shine a light on this much-neglected area.
At the heart of my work is an acute awareness that people with experiences of illness should be at the centre of research into their own conditions. I aim to engage with experts-by-experience throughout my PhD and beyond. This should, I believe, be a central concern of all academic research – but it is especially important in this field, where so many have felt shut out of discussions about their own suffering. With this always in mind, I work closely with my Advisory Group (formed of eight women with lived experience of complex medical conditions) whose knowledge, support, and insights are crucial to the successful progress of my research.