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Society for the History of Natural History

About SHNH

Officers & Council

Officers & Council 2020-2021

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.


Professor Peter Davis
SHNH President

Professor Peter Davis

Honorary Secretary

Ms Ann Sylph

Honorary Treasurer

Mr William Noblett

Honorary Editor


Honorary Meetings Secretary

Ms Jo Hatton


SHNH Council Meeting September 2020

The President, Officers, and:

  • Ms Gina Douglas *
  • Mr Jan Freedman +
  • Ms Elle Larsson *
  • Dr Geraldine Reid +
  • Ms Maggie Reilly *
  • Ms Felicity Roberts *
  • Dr Stanislav Strekopytov +

*  elected 2018
+ elected 2019
# elected 2020

Council Co-optees

  • Mr Jack Ashby (Strategy)
  • Dr Helen Cowie (Chair, Stearn Essay Panel)
  • Ms Miranda Lowe (Membership)
  • Dr Malgosia Nowak-Kemp (Representatives)
  • 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

Professor Peter Davis

Peter Davis is Emeritus 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 book series ‘Heritage Matters’, published by Boydell and Brewer and has co-edited five books in the series, most recently Changing Perceptions of Nature (2016) and Heritage and Peacebuilding (2017). With Michelle Stefano he edited The Routledge Companion to Intangible Cultural Heritage, published in early 2017. Peter is perhaps best known to the Society in his role as Honorary Editor of Archives of Natural History from 2012- 2017.

Ms Gina Douglas

Gina Douglas served as Meetings Secretary for the Society for the History of Natural History from 1989-2018. 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 both the Linnaean and Smithian biological collections, including correspondence and annotated works. As Honorary Archivist and Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, she edits The Linnean Newsletter and Proceedings. She has contributed to numerous scholarly publications on Linnaeus and J. E. Smith and is one of the founding members of the European Botanical and Horticultural Libraries’ group and the Linnaeus Link Partnership. She is President of The Ray Society and is a long standing member of the British Ecological Society.

Mr Jan Freedman

Jan Freedman has been working in museums since 2004, including at the Natural History Museum (London) and the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.  Jan is Curator of Natural History at the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (now The Box). He has worked with a wide range of natural history collections, including entomology, taxidermy, spirit preserved collections, herbaria, skeletal material, petrology, minerals and fossils. His main area of interest is with the Pleistocene collections, and discovering the environments and creatures from our recent past. Along with the variety of fascinating specimens in museums that he has worked with he is also extremely interested in the stories behind the collections.  Jan is also the blog editor for NatSCA ( sharing the amazing and varied work of natural science staff all around the country to a much wider audience.

Ms Jo Hatton

Jo Hatton 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.

Ms Elle Larsson

Elle Larsson is currently in the 3rd year of her PhD which examines Walter Rothschild’s zoological collection at Tring, its aim being to use Rothschild to reclaim the position of private collectors within the history of science at the turn of the twentieth century. This is a collaborative project for which she is based both at King’s College London and the Natural History Museum. This research comes after having completed both her undergraduate and masters work on the history of the exotic animal trade, in particular looking at the business dealings of animal dealer Charles Jamrach. Elle is also currently a co-convenor of the Animal History Group which she, together with three other students at KCL, established in 2016 with the idea of bringing together all those with an interest in animal history in its broadest sense. As she continues in her working life she is eager to pursue her passion for natural history and the history of museum collections, using her research to continue to communicate with the public.

Dr Geraldine Reid

Geraldine Reid is Senior Curator of Botany at World Museum, National Museums Liverpool. She is responsible for the curation, development, research and interpretation of this diverse collection.  Her main research interest is diatom systematics which has been the focus of her career. She is interested in the role of collectors and collections to tell hidden stories. She is currently researching the history of the phycologists in the World Museum collections.

Ms Maggie Reilly

Maggie Reilly B.Sc (Hons), is Curator of Zoology at The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow where she has spent all of her professional career.  After a graduate summer scholarship working for Juliet Clutton-Brock on herbivore skulls at the NHM, she took up a post at her alma mater to curate the wide-ranging  zoological collections. From protozoa to mammals, taxidermy,  bones, wet-preserved eggs, shells, entomology, associated records and archives, the collection requires knowledge of practical care and conservation techniques, taxonomy and nomenclature, collections research, documentation and a myriad of other skills. On the use/access side she has experience in exhibition-making, education and training for  nursery – post-grad/lifelong learning audiences, outreach and public engagement, grant-raising, project management and policy development. More recently she has also taken on responsibility for the curation of anatomy and pathology collections. She also has a general interest in the history of science, particularly biology over the 18th – 20th centuries. For many years she has been a committee member for the Natural Sciences Collections Association.

Ms Felicity Roberts

Felicity Roberts has an MA in Eighteenth-Century Studies from King’s College London, in conjunction with the British Museum. Her research interests cover natural history, gender, material culture and the literary and visual arts during the long eighteenth century. She served as book reviews editor for Archives of Natural History from 2014 to 2018.

Dr Stanislav Strepokytov

Stanislav Strepokytov graduated from the Moscow State University (Moscow, Russia) in 1994 with a cum laude BSc degree in Geology and Geochemistry. He then obtained PhD in Marine Geology in 1997 from the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow and was heavily involved in marine fieldwork in the following three years. He left Russia in 2000 and had a succession of academic jobs in Germany and in the UK including a lab-based job at the Natural History Museum London (NHM) between 2008 and 2018. His research at the NHM, in combination with his previous experience, played a significant role in expanding his interests to the history of collecting and preserving of specimens, bridging the history of the natural history with the history of chemistry and other related fields. He has (co-)authored about 55 peer-reviewed publications, including three recent papers in Archives of Natural History.

Ms Ann Sylph

Ann Sylph is Librarian at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) with responsibility for both library and archives, managing the collections and staff as well having a strategic overview. The ZSL collections support ZSL’s purpose to inform, inspire and empower people to stop wild animals going extinct. Ann has a BSc in Ecology, an MSc in Information Science and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (MCLIP). Ann has worked in a variety of libraries and in providing information services. Ann’s role at ZSL allows her to combine her interests in wildlife conservation and information management. She is keen to ensure that the ZSL can offer its collections as an academic resource and for public engagement. She is particularly interested in the contribution of women to the development of zoology, history of marine zoology, and historical scientific illustration. Ann regularly blogs at & tweets @ZSLLibrary.

Co-opted Members of Council

Mr Jack Ashby

Jack Ashby is the Assistant Director – University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge, 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. 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.

Dr Helen Cowie

Helen Cowie is senior lecturer in history at the University of York. Her research focuses on the history of animals and the history of natural history. She is author of Conquering Nature in Spain and its Empire, 1750-1850 (Manchester University Press, 2011), Exhibiting Animals in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Empathy, Education, Entertainment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Llama (Reaktion Books, 2017).

Ms Miranda Lowe

Miranda Lowe is a Principal Curator and museum scientist at the Natural History Museum, London. With over two decades in collections management, she cares for the historically important specimens from both the Challenger and Discovery oceanic expeditions. Her scientific expertise is in peracarid crustacea with a light touch in coral taxonomy. She also manages both the crustcaea and Cnidaria and assciated minor phyla collections. As well as SHNH, Miranda plays an active role in the Natural Sciences Collections Association (as Collections at Risk Rep) and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (Member At Large). As a volunteer STEM ambassador and communicator of science she does outreach in schools and behind the scenes at the Natural History Museum, London. She mentors students as part of the Social Mobility Foundation ‘Aspiring Professionals’ scheme and the Prince’s Trust.

Dr Malgosia Nowak-Kemp

Malgosia Nowak-Kemp has been a member of the Society for some years, serving on the Council and since 2006 acting as the International Representatives Co-ordinator. Until her retirement in 2015, she was the Zoological Collections Manager of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History with primary responsibility for the curation and management of vertebrate material. This included the oldest specimens of natural history in this country – the collection of father and son John Tradescant – containing amongst others the famous Dodo. During the course of her museum work she conducted research on the origin and history of the vertebrate collection, and has published on numerous topics including the Oxford Dodo, the Bell turtle collection, the human remains, and the extinct giant lemurs of Madagascar. She has also collaborated on a number DNA studies of museum specimens. Malgosia organised and taught several practical undergraduate and post-graduate courses for Oxford University and Brookes Oxford University utilising the extensive vertebrate collection of the Museum. She was also involved in the museum’s outreach and public engagement programme, giving talks to various societies and members of general public on different topic of natural history. Through her membership of Oxford University Museums Historical Group she took part in cross museums historical projects.  In 2015, Malgosia took early retirement in order to concentrate on her research interests and she successfully completed her doctorate on the collection and usage of the zoological collections of Oxford University from the 17th to 21stcentury. She has contributed a chapter entitled William Burchell in Southern Africa, 1811-1815 for the volume Naturalists in the fieldCollecting, Recording and Preserving the Natural World from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-First Century (Brill, 2018)  edited by the Past President of the Society, Arthur MacGregor. She is a member of the Early History of Anthropology and Archaeology at Oxford and Oxford Bioanthropology Initiative. Her current research interests concern the acquisition of human osteological collection.

Ms Elaine Shaughnessy

Elaine Shaughnessy 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 Trustee and 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. Roles have included Head of Development for the Linnean Society of London, Head of Publishing for IUCN – International Union for Conservation of Nature and Editor for Editions Alecto, where she worked on the Banksian natural history collections from  Cook’s first voyage in HMS Endeavour (1768-1771) held at the Natural History Museum, London.