Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Dr Vicki McGowan

Research Associate


Vicki has a BSc (Hons) in Medical Anthropology; an MA in Research Methods (Anthropology); and a PhD in Medical Anthropology (2015), all from Durham University. Her doctoral thesis focused on the impact of school meal legislation on child body mass index from 1908 to 2010; supervised by Professor Gillian Bentley (Anthropology), Dr Louisa Ells (Teesside University) and Dr Michael Nelson (formerly, Children's Food Trust).

She joined the Institute of Health and Society in March 2017 as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate.  Her research interests focus on inequalities and the social determinants of health. Specifically, she is interested in the impact of legislation on child health; such as the use of school meals and holiday feeding programmes to address child malnourishment.  

She is currently leading the evaluation of Darlington Healthy New Towns; an NHS England initiative which aims to shape the health of communities by working with housing developers to rethink how health and care services can be delivered. She also works on several health inequalities projects funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research.

Follow Vicki on twitter @drvjmcgowan


Research Interests:

  • Health inequalities 
  • Food poverty
  • Child malnourishment (obesity/underweight)
  • Impact of legislation on child health
  • School meals
  • Holiday hunger
  • Qualitative/Quantitative methodology


ESRC CASE (1+3) Studentship (2009-2014): Policy in Perspective: Assessing the impact of school meal legislation on child malnourishment (£93,160). 

Professional activities:

Chair Researchers' Network Committee: NIHR School for Public Health Research (2016-18).

North East Obesity Forum (NEOF) Organising Committee. 

All Party Parliamentary Group on School Food.

School liaison: outreach programme, Department of Anthropology, Durham University (2012-14).

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) Ambassador (2010-14).

Researcher in Residence: Harton Technology College (2010-11).


I am happy to supervise students with an interest in child health, inequality, school meals and holiday hunger.