Biocultural Historian: Plants + medicines


Since discovering a love of research on the history of plants and medicines after my first degree,   I have been writing and editing popular books on herbal remedies and teaching workshops on plant identification, folklore and remedy making at www.handmadeapothecary.co.uk 

I am now based in the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, undertaking my PhD project on the anti-malarial Cinchona bark collection.

Other info:

I like to stay busy, so I am also an author (see publications page), run a podcast ‘In Pursuit of Plants’ and am a committee member for two academic groups. I am the Programme Secretary for the British Society for the History of Pharmacy and am on the Herbal History Research Network committee (Website designer/manager) .


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2017-2020 PhD Candidate (TECHNE NPIF)

Royal Holloway University of London & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Title of PHD: 'Biocultural collections and networks of knowledge exchange in the 19th century: the quest for quinine'. Based on the large cinchona collections within the Economic Botany Collection at Kew, this collections based research will trace the networks of exchange, circulation of specimens and key players in this story, shedding light upon the development of this important anti-malarial. A collaboration with Royal Holloway.

Supervisors: Felix Driver (RHUL) & Mark Nesbitt (RBG, Kew)

Full description here.

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2014 MSc Herbal Medicine (Research) Distinction

University of Westminster

Dissertation: History of the development of Eucalyptus spp. as a medicine 19th Century.

2009-2012 BSc (Hons) Herbal Medicine 2:1

University of Westminster

Dissertation: Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) and CITES


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2019 The Humanities and Arts Research Institute (HARI), Royal Holloway, for a podcast project

2018 Society for the History of Alchemy (SHAC) New Scholars Award, for research abroad

2017 TECNHE NPIF (PhD) Scholarship 

2017 Martin Fellowship, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, Leiden, Netherlands, for a collaborative cinchona project

2016 Fort Foundation Research Grant, Kew Project

2014 Fort Foundation Educational Grant, MSc Funding

(Also see Linkedin)

Selected career

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Economic Botany Collection, Kew Gardens

Since 2014 I have been involved in a wide range of projects researching the history of medicine and overseeing projects at the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew including:

  • Research of the history of Eucalyptus & Cinchona.

  • Project supervision for the closure of the Plants + People Exhibition (Museum No 1).

  • Assistant curation for the displays at the Botanical Cafe, Kew.

  • Project officer for the expansion of the new Economic botany offices.

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City of London: Open Spaces

Since 2012 I have worked in various open spaces departments & teams for Epping Forest, Highgate Woods & Hampstead Heath including:

  • Communications & Social Media: developing strategy and communications planning

  • Outdoor education: planning & delivering educational sessions based on the National Curriculum

  • Events organisation & planning