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Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Network in Medical Humanities (PGECR)

The Postgraduate and Early Career Researcher Network in Medical Humanities (PGECR) is part of the IMH's vibrant research community and organises regular academic and social events for PGs and ECRs interested in the medical humanities. The PGECR Network is committed to building and supporting a space for early career researchers in the medical humanities to collaborate, share dialogue, and find a sense of community. In the past, the Network has run reading groups, research “taster” roundtables, work-in-progress forums, PhD/postdoc application workshops, and social events like film nights.


In 2021, the Network ran the Alternate, Virtual, and Augmented Realities conference for early career researchers. This two-day virtual conference was thematically inspired by our collective experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which made us acutely aware of the precarity of health and wellbeing, of how structural asymmetries mediate our situated, embodied experiences - and access to - healthcare. Our conference brought researchers from diverse fields together to reflect on how certain realities or experiences get designated as alternative to begin with: who defines the normative parameters of lived experience, how, and why? Through a multimodal, multidisciplinary range of panels, the conference offered a generative space for accommodating these plural realities, and think about how they might – methodologically and ideologically –illuminate the work that we do in the medical and health humanities. You can find more information about our event here: 


We welcome all postgraduate and early career researchers interested and/or working in the broad field of the medical humanities to join us – this Network is open to you regardless of your institutional affiliation (you don’t have to be Durham-based!). If you would like to get involved and keep up-to-date with our events, please email to be added to our mailing list. Our Network also has an active presence on both Twitter and Facebook if you would like to find out more.


PGECR is run by our team of PGECR Coordinators:

Miss Katharine Cheston

PGECR Coordinator

Ms Ariel Swyer

PGECR Coordinator

Miss Arya Thampuran

PGECR Coordinator

Coordinator portrait taken on a beach Ariel Swyer Headshot

Katharine is a Wellcome-funded doctoral researcher based at the Institute for Medical Humanities.

Katharine's doctoral research focuses on complex, poorly-understood medical conditions and investigates how these conditions can be a uniquely potent source of shame. The project is inherently interdisciplinary, combining literary and qualitative methods, and was inspired by Katharine’s engagement with ME/CFS groups and activist organisations.

Katharine has continued to work in partnership with patient communities throughout her doctoral studies, adopting an engaged research approach.

I am a doctoral researcher based at the IMH and the Department of Psychology. My research looks at voice-hearing in those that don't require mental health support, often referred to as "non-clinical voice-hearers." My research uses both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the ways in which voices interact with other aspects of people's lives such as their communities and their beliefs about the mind. I am interested in the role of lived-experience in research, belief, the meaning of distress, the extended mind, and more.

Arya is an Assistant Professor (Research) in Black Health and the Humanities at the IMH. She is also the Principal Investigator of the Wellcome Trust-funded Black Health and the Humanities Network, and co-leader of the new NNMHR-funded Neurodivergent Humanities Network. She recently completed her doctoral study at Durham’s English Studies department, where she also pursued her BA and MA degrees.

Her research engages with how creative practitioners across the African diaspora express mental health and healing through different artistic mediums, in ways that exceed dominant Euro-American biomedical models and disrupt clinical framings of distress as ‘disorder’. Principally, her work is committed to a decolonial and intersectional approach, bridging interdisciplinary perspectives across the medical humanities, critical race, literary, and neurodiversity studies.


Get in touch

For general enquiries, please contact us by email.

Institute for Medical Humanities

Durham University

Confluence Building

Lower Mountjoy

Stockton Road



T. +44 (0)191 334 8277