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Durham University

Research & business

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Dr Tessa M. Pollard, DPhil

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology

(email at


Tessa applies approaches from medical anthropology, public health and epidemiology to investigate everyday physical activity practices and their relationships with health and wellbeing. She is particularly interested in using ethnographic methods to explore the impact of interventions to promote walking for leisure and travel. She leads the Department of Anthropology’s Physical Activity Lab, which hosts a variety of technologies to objectively measure active and sedentary practices.

Tessa is currently working on a project on social prescribing for type 2 diabetes funded by the National Institute of Health Research, for which she leads a work package using ethnographic methods to assess the impact of the intervention, and a project evaluating the impact of policies to promote active travel funded by the School for Public Health Research.

Tessa currently supervises PhD students researchering the rise of organisations that promote physical activity alongside volunteering, on self-management of diabetes in Malawi and on disentangling the effects of sex and gender on physical activity.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Research Projects

Department of Anthropology

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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