Officers & Council 2017
The Council of the Society for the History of Natural History consists of the Officers and nine Councillors. Officers stand for election at the Annual General Meetings of the Society and Councillors serve terms of three years. Council may also co-opt members of Council to serve.
Dr Arthur MacGregor
Mrs Lynda Brooks
Mr William Noblett
Professor Peter Davis
Honorary Meetings Secretary
Ms Gina Douglas
The President, Officers, and:
- Mr Jack Ashby +
- Dr Helen Cowie #
- Dr Clemency Fisher +
- Mr Geoff Hancock *
- Mr Matthew Holmes *
- Dr Anna Marie Roos *
- Ms Louise Tomsett #
- Professor Ray Williams +
# elected 2014
* elected 2015
+ elected 2016
- Dr Isabelle Charmantier (Membership)
- Ms Jo Hatton (Development)
- Ms Miranda Lowe (Membership)
- Mrs Malgosia Nowak-Kemp (Representatives)
- Ms Felicity Roberts (Book Reviews)
- Ms Elaine Shaughnessy (Website and Newsletter)
Representatives are appointed by Council and are able to attend Council meetings. Their term of appointment is initially for three years, with an annual review by Council. This can be extended as approved by Council.
See the International Representatives‘ page for further details.
The administrative business of the Society is the responsibility of the Officers, supported by contributors. These contributors attend Council meetings as guests to consult on issues relevant to their Society activities and receive Council guidance.
Officer and Council Member Biographies
Mr Jack Ashby
Jack is the Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology, University College London, with strategic overview of their varied activities – developing the Museum as both a valuable academic resource and an excellent public venue, while caring for the collections responsibly. A large area of his work is to find ways to integrate the historic natural history collection and museum space into current academic teaching, research and public engagement programmes across the sciences, arts and humanities, often through exhibitions.
Jack is particularly interested in the natural history of Australia and its mammals (where he regularly undertakes fieldwork), as well as the role of museum collections in the history of the teaching of and public engagement with zoology. Jack is a long-standing committee member and trustee of the Natural Sciences Collections Association. He is heavily involved in UCL Museums’ online engagement activities through blogs and other social media platforms, and for a long time oversaw the Department’s marketing activities on and off-line.
Ms Gina Douglas
Gina Douglas has served as Meetings Secretary for the Society for the History of Natural History since 1989. She is also the Honorary Archivist and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London. As Librarian and Archivist of the Linnean Society from 1983-2007, she was closely involved with the creation of the online library catalogue, the Linnaeus Link Project, and the digitization of the Linnaean biological collections, including his correspondence and annotated works. She was also involved in initiating the on-going project to scanning the herbarium and the correspondence of James Edward Smith and make those available online. Since her retirement, she has returned to the Linnean Society on a volunteer basis. She has contributed to numerous scholarly publications on Linnaeus and Smith and is one of the founding members of the European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries’ group and the Linnaeus Link Partnership. She also serves as a Trustee for The Ray Society, is on the Library and Information Services Committee of the Freshwater Biological Association and is a long standing member of the British Ecological Society.
Professor Peter Davis
Peter Davis is Professor of Museology in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University, UK. He is a long-standing member of the Society for the History of Natural History, has served on Council and acted as Meetings Secretary and Book Reviews Editor. Peter’s research interests include the history of museums; the history of natural history and environmentalism; the interaction between heritage and concepts of place; and ecomuseums. He is the author of several books including Museums and the Natural Environment (1996), Ecomuseums: a sense of place (1999; 2nd edition 2011) and (with Christine Jackson) Sir William Jardine: a life in natural history (2001). He is a member of the Editorial Board of the series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer and has recently co-edited two volumes in the series, namely Making Sense of Place and Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. He is also editor of Museum History Journal which is published by Left Coast Press.
Ms Louise Tomsett
Louise is a Senior Curator of Mammals at the Natural History Museum in London. Her role is extremely varied and includes curating and developing the collection, research collaborations in a wide range of scientific and historical subjects and enhancing physical and digital access to collections and their associated information. She began her museum career working as a volunteer on several projects at the NHM in the Zoological and Palaeontological collections, and at the Zoological Society of London. She then gained a permanent position at the NHM, firstly as a behind the scenes tour guide and assistant curator across Zoological collections, then as a full-time curator in Mammals. She is a member of the Society for Preservation of Natural History Collections, Natural Sciences Collections Association, Anglo-Indonesian Society, Society for Wildlife Forensic Science and has been a member of SHNH for many years. She has been extensively involved in the Kingston University Museum Lives archival project and consequent research. The project aims to archive otherwise lost scientific knowledge, techniques and social attitudes. Her core interests are Zoology and Ecology but she also has a strong interest in historic collections, exploration and expeditions, history of specimen preparation for display and research, and use of historic collections for multi-disciplinary research such as wildlife conservation, social history, illustration and media. Having recently been involved in work in Kalimantan, her interests are also widening to South-East Asia.
Co-opted Members of Council
Dr Isabelle Charmantier
Isabelle first became involved with SHNH during her PhD on 17th-century ornithology (2005-2008). She was Associate Research Fellow at the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, from 2009 to 2013, where she worked on the project ‘Re-Writing the System of Nature: Carl Linnaeus’s Writing Technologies’. From 2013 to 2015 she was employed by the Linnean Society of London to catalogue Linnaeus’s manuscripts. She is currently Information Scientist for the Freshwater Biological Association in Far Sawrey, Ambleside. She was the book reviews editor for Archives of Natural History from 2011 to 2014. Her research interests include the history of early modern natural history, and more specifically the history of ornithology, the history of the book and writing technologies, and Carl Linnaeus.
Ms Jo Hatton
Jo is Keeper of Natural History at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in South East London where she is responsible for the development, research and interpretation of this diverse collection. She started her career as a curator, documenting and cataloguing Natural History specimens at Liverpool Museum and went on to curate similar material at the National Museum of Wales, Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the Grant Museum of Zoology, UCL, before taking up her current post. As a long standing committee member for the Biology Curators Group and the Natural Sciences Collections Association, Jo held the position of Meetings Secretary. She is currently a council member of the London Natural History Society and has been a member of SHNH for many years. Current research interests include the history of taxidermy, particularly the little known Hampshire taxidermist and naturalist, Edward Hart (most of his remaining taxidermy cases and notebooks are housed at the Horniman Museum), as well as the early entomological collection of the museum’s founder Frederick J. Horniman.
Felicity completed an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies in 2010 before beginning her PhD on Sir Hans Sloane and early modern practices of observing and representing the natural world in 2012, in both cases in the English Department of King’s College London, in conjunction with the British Museum. Her research interests cover English natural history and the literary and visual arts during the long eighteenth century, 18thC aesthetics, women’s involvement in natural history, widows, the history of the senses, the history of collections, Sir Hans Sloane, Mary Delany and Charlotte Smith.
Ms Elaine Shaughnessy
Elaine has a long association with SHNH and has served on Council and acted as the Representative’s Co-ordinator (1994 – 2006). She is a currently Newsletter Editor and Website Coordinator. She is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and was awarded a Linnean Tercentenary Medal in 2008. Elaine is additionally an Ambassador for the World Land Trust and a member of the IUCN Commission for Education and Communication.
Professor Ray Williams
Ray Williams is a zoologist working as a veterinary parasitologist professionally, and as a marine biologist for fun. Research in experimental science stimulated an interest in historical, biographical and bibliographical aspects of natural history. Current projects include the life and work of John Van Voorst (scientific publisher), Philip Henry Gosse (naturalist and artist), Thomas Hincks (zoophyte taxonomist), John Henry Gurney senior (ornithologist), Ernest Edward Tyzzer (oncologist and parasitologist), and Thomas Alan Stephenson (marine ecologist and artist). An SHNH member since 1983, Ray has previously served on Council for 1986-89 and 2006-09; initiated the organization of the Easter Conference for 1989 on Sources and Techniques for Biographical and Bibliographical Research; and received the society’s Founders’ Medal in 2009. In 1991, he was chief editor of the Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Coelenterate Biology; in 2006 revised, for the British Library, the eighth edition of John Carter’s ABC for Book Collectors; and is currently a member of the editorial board of Zoological Bibliography. In 2006, he was appointed a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Beijing; in 2008, was conferred an ScD by the University of Cambridge for his parasitology research; and in 2009 was elected to the Lasher History Lectureship of the American Association of Avian Pathologists.