Dr Jane Dickson

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Population Health and Genomics, School of Medicine

Population Health and Genomics, School of Medicine

Portrait photo of Jane Dickson
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+44 (0)1382 381373


Jane completed her undergraduate degree in Visual Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA (summa cum laude) and then returned to the UK to undertake an MA (honours). She was awarded a PhD in Material, Visual and Digital Culture section of the Anthropology department at University College London. Fieldwork for this was conducted with a Local Authority Sustainability Team who retrofit social housing with green (living) roofs to mitigate against a changing climate. The multi-sited ethnography also involved networking as a methodological strategy, assembling a group of greenroofers, including ecologists, DIY-ers, policymakers roofers and builders. Her thesis examined how applicable Gibson's affordance theory might be to the production of ecological utopias (Ecotopias).

Jane has also conducted research with the Transition Towns Network and historical reenactors, examining how members construct their visual culture, particularly through film, images, websites and imagery. She has completed a series of short research contracts including re-writing a large ESRC grant, for a team at UCL and a design and user research project in a London park, as part of NESTA’s Rethinking Parks Project.

Jane worked as a Research Officer on the Delivering Digital Drugs (D3) Project. This was an interdisciplinary, EPSRC funded project examining the digitization of medicines. Using concepts such as digital materiality, the project examined the way medicines are becoming increasingly digitalized, embedded in and constituted by rich and rapidly changing data technologies and ecosystems. Jane's focus was on: warfarin as a 'digital drug'; the British National Formulary's (BNF) and apps for monitoring medications.

Jane has just completed Video Reflexive Ethnography study at Dundee University entitled: ‘Improving the safety of inter-professional collaboration in an Acute Medical Unit: an examination of the feasibility and implementation of video reflexive ethnography in UK healthcare’.

The Video Reflexive Ethnography study was a one year pilot project testing how the methodology could be applicable within a high turnover, high risk environment of an Acute Medical Unit. In addition, using video to make visible and investigate the inter-professional collaborations on the ward. Video feedback sessions enabled clinicians and nursing staff to co-construct improved working practices which mitigate risks and enhance patient safety.


Jane is an anthropologist and a material, visual and digital culture specialist, viewing the relationship between people and the material world as one of reciprocity. Underlying assumptions about the world are reflected in the practices and infrastructures, materials and objects we choose to build, use, cherish and dispose of. While reflecting what we think and believe, in turn, they construct us as persons, communities and societies.

I am currently working on the Antibiotic Research in Care Homes (ARCH) project within the School of Medicine, Dundee University. This is a multi-disciplinary research collaboration investigating how we can safely improve antibiotic prescribing in care homes. I am delivering the ethnographic fieldwork and interviews in work package 2 and the behavioural psychology interviews in work package 3.   

Research Interests include: Medical anthropology; material and visual culture; video reflexive ethnography (VRE); intersections between art, medicine and anthropology; ethnography, development of qualitative methods, sustainability; Utopias and Ecotopias; urban anthropology.