Durham University

Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Dr Tessa M. Pollard, DPhil

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology

(email at t.m.pollard@durham.ac.uk)


Tessa's current research draws on approaches from medical anthropology, public health and epidemiology to investigate the place of health-related practices, particularly physical activities such as walking, in everyday lives. She examines how interventions to promote health, particularly physical activity, work in everyday lives. She also draws on an evolutionary perspective, which considers how past adaptations may have led to today's health problems. For some time she has applied these approaches to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in migrant and minority groups in the UK, and she currently has a particular interest in women's walking.

She leads a Physical Activity Lab using a variety of technologies, as well as qualitative methods, to investigate everyday practices such as walking.

Tessa currently supervises PhD students working on the suggested link between sedentary time during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes, understanding the rise of organisations that promote physical activity alongside volunteering, and on self-management of diabetes in Malawi. 

Research Interests

  • Understanding the place of physical activities in everyday lives
  • Using ethnography to inform interventions
  • Walking and walking groups
  • Evolutionary perspectives on physical activity
  • The health of migrant populations

Selected Publications

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Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

  • Physical Activity Special Interest Group

Research Projects