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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


University Assistant Professor

Research interests

History of medicine and the life sciences since 1800, especially obstetrics, midwifery and childbirth; public health and welfare; reproductive technologies; histories of pregnancy, embryo and fetus; histories of anatomy, anatomical museums and dissection; histories of food, nutrition and consumer activism; histories of risk and risk reduction in medicine and healthcare; medicine on film and television.

I started my career as a research associate on the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award on Generation to Reproduction. I have recently completed my first book on obstetrics, teratology and the early history of antenatal care in Britain c.1900. I have edited (with Angela Davis) a special issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences on 'Transforming Pregnancy Since 1900' (2014). This thematizes changes in the experience and management of pregnancy across the whole twentieth century.

My current research examines the history of folic acid as a technology of pregnancy, with its implications beyond reproduction for the globalization of biomedical knowledge, the management of risk and the role of consumer activism in shaping public health policy.



'"The Mothers of England Object": Public Health, Privacy and Professional Ethics in the Early Twentieth-Century Debate over the Notification of Pregnancy', Social History of Medicine (in press)

'Hospital Birth', in Reproduction: Antiquity to the Present Day, edited by Nick Hopwood, Rebecca Flemming and Lauren Kassell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

'"Antenatal affairs": Maternal Marking and the Medical Management of Pregnancy in Britain around 1900', in Urte Helduser ed. Imaginationen des Ungeborenen/Imaginations of the Unborn (Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2018)

'Drawing Back the Curtain: Natural Childbirth on Screen in 1950s Britain', British Journal for the History of Science 50 (2017): 473–493

'The "Ice Age" of Anatomy and Obstetrics: Hand and Eye in the Promotion of Frozen Sections around 1900', Bulletin of the History of Medicine 90 (2016): 611–642

'Transforming Pregnancy Since 1900', Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47 (2014): 229–232

'Making Birth Defects "Preventable": Pre-Conceptional Vitamin Supplements and the Politics of Risk Reduction', Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47 (2014): 278–289

'Pregnancy, Pathology and Public Morals: Making Antenatal Care in Early Twentieth-Century Edinburgh', Western Maternity and Medicine, 1880–1990, edited by Janet Greenlees and Linda Bryder (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2013): 31–46

'Teratology and the Clinic: John William Ballantyne and the Making of Antenatal Life', Wellcome History 42 (Winter 2009): 2–4

'Magic, Science and Masculinity: Marketing Toy Chemistry Sets', Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 40 (2009): 372–381



Essay review of P. Michaels, Lamaze: An International History (Oxford University Press 2014), Reviews in History, September 2014

Review of Morbid Curiosities: Medical Museums in Nineteenth-Century Britain by Samuel Alberti (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), Social History of Medicine 25 (2012): 545–546


Public Engagement

I have blogged about my research in the history of pregnancy for Perceptions of Pregnancy and The Guardian. My work on chemistry sets has featured on the BBC.



I lecture on the history of modern medicine and biomedical sciences in HPS. I am happy to supervise Part II, Part III and MPhil essays and dissertations in a range of topics in the history of medicine from around 1800 to the present.