culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Conny Guell

Senior Lecturer


I am a medical anthropologist and my research focuses on healthy living practices and policies and how these are shaped across the lifecycle, population groups, and socio-cultural, historical, political and economic contexts.

After completing a first degree in sociology and social anthropology at the University of Heidelberg and graduate training in medical anthropology at Brunel University, I was awarded an ESRC PhD scholarship and a Wenner-Gren dissertation grant to explore Turkish immigrant experiences with diabetes care in Berlin, Germany (PhD in Social Anthropology, Edinburgh, 2009). I undertook postdoctoral research on physical activity in British Pakistani women at Durham University, and was the qualitative research lead on a mixed-method project to investigate decision-making and social contexts in commuting at the MRC Epidemiology Unit and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) at the University of Cambridge. After three years of teaching and research (on diabetes care and chronic disease policy implementation) at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, I returned to CEDAR to conduct an ethnographic study on aspirations for active ageing; I also led on a knowledge exchange study in transport and health.

Now based at ECEHH since 2017, I continue to develop social theoretical and qualitative methodological approaches for exploring the social and physical environments that shape health practices. A particular interest lies in framing behaviour change within social practice theories, and in understanding multi-sectoral policy responses to chronic diseases in the UK, the Caribbean region and elsewhere.

Research Highlights to Date

Research highlights to date include working with historians, urban planners, policymakers and civil society to investigate the history of Caribbean foodscapes to explore the ways cities impact on their populations’ food practices and opportunities and subsequent health outcomes. This led to a follow up project, in which we aim to understand how historical data of Caribbean food systems can be identified, curated and used to inform current policy and practice strategies for better nutrition and health.

I am also co-investigator on a project to investigate local experiences of global food systems and co-develop interventions for community food production in the Caribbean and South Pacific, working with NGOs in St Vincent and the Grenadines and in Fiji and colleagues at the Universities of the West Indies and the South Pacific.

Work I will be doing with the Centre

I am particularly interested in innovative participatory qualitative methods to research practices and policies related to physical activity and nutrition (in particular active living infrastructure and food systems).